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Your position: Home > Styles by Artists > Fauvism > Karl Pärsimägi
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Karl Pärsimägi (11 May 1902, Oe, Antsla Parish - 27 July 1942, Auschwitz) was an Estonian Fauvist painter.
He was the son of a wealthy "gentleman farmer". In 1919, he participated in the Estonian War of Independence and was awarded a medal. After that, against his father's wishes, he went to Tartu to enroll at the new "Pallas Art School" which was known for promoting modern art. In addition to the newer styles, such as Fauvism, he found himself influenced by Estonian folk art and by Konrad Mägi, who was a teacher there. He also studied with Nikolai Triik and, in 1923, made a study trip to Germany. That same year, he held his first exhibition. He interrupted his training several times, to visit the family farm and paint landscapes.
In 1937, he moved to Paris, with the financial support of his father, who had finally become reconciled to his son's career choice. While there, he studied at the Académie Colarossi and came under the influence of Paul Cézanne, although he became known as the "Estonian Matisse". At the outbreak of World War II, unlike most other Baltic artists, he refused to return to his homeland, which was now occupied by the Russians.
In 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Auschwitz by way of Drancy internment camp. The reasons for his arrest remain unclear. He was not Jewish but, perhaps, had been trying to help a Jewish friend or was active in the Resistance. Sexual orientation has also been cited as a possible motive.He was put to death the following year.
Because of his support for Estonian independence, his works were denied official recognition by the Soviet Union. After 1991, interest was renewed. The 100th anniversary of his birth was celebrated with an exhibition and many of his works are now at the Tartu Art Museum.

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