“Montparnasse (Le Select)” Oil on canvas 28 1/2" x 38 7/8" Framed size: 38" x 48"
Born in Riga, Latvia, Russia, his father was a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute of Riga and his mother a Professor of Literature. They moved frequently and in 1925 the émigré family moved this time to the French "concession" of Shanghai, where Kluge would graduate from the French Municipal High School. By the time he was seventeen, he was a very active member of the Shanghai Art Club. At this period of his life he also took up the violin and cello, and later in Paris gave music lessons to help meet his expenses. In 1931 Kluge left Shanghai for Paris to study architecture. He spent six years at the E’cole des Beaux-Arts and in 1937 graduated with the title of French Government Architect. The years spent studying and living in the Latin Quarter of Paris had created in Kluge a strong attachment to the characteristic scenes of Paris, and, instead of returning immediately to Shanghai and his family, he stayed in Paris for six months painting views of Paris in oils, purely to portray and preserve the scenes he so loved. His professor of Chinese had taught him, from the age of ten, a respect for the handling of the brush, and the attitude of the Orientals toward the beauties of nature drew the young artist to the depiction of beauty in painting. When Kluge returned to China, he practiced his profession of architecture for a time. But when his friends persuaded him to exhibit his paintings, the exhibitions were so successful and aroused such enthusiasm that Kluge felt that painting, his first love, could afford him a livelihood. In mid-1946 he accepted an architectural post in Hong Kong and continued to paint in his spare time. In March, 1950, amid rumors that the Chinese Communists might invade Hong Kong, he left Asia for good and returned to Paris, Already a mature and successful painter by the time he reached Paris, it is not surprising that he won an award and considerable attention at the Paris Salon in 1951. Since that time he had been a frequent exhibitor in the Salon shows, which had proven to be his gateways to ever increasing public attention, Kluge was a member of the Société des Artistes Francais, and his works have won prizes at their Salon. In 1961 he was awarded the Medaille d'Argent as well as the special Raymond Perreau prize given by the Taylor Foundation at the Salon. In 1962 he received the coveted Gold Medal of the Salon. In 1990, Kluge earned one of the most prestigious non-military awards bestowed by the French government: he was named a Chevalier de la Ugion d'Honneur by the French Ministry of Culture. In 1991, Kluge was awarded the Grand Medal of the City of Senlis. Completely captivated by the many moods of Paris, Kluge has become absorbed in painting this beautiful city. French art critics declared that Constantin Kluge is a painter of poetic realism.