Grégoire Michonze , variant name Grégoire Michonznic, was born in 1902 in Kishinev, the Russian Empire (now the Republic of Moldova).
Michonze studied at a local art academy from 1919-1922 where, painting Russian icons, he learned to master the technique of painting with egg tempera. He continued his studies at the Academy of Painting in Bucharest and befriended the artist Victor Brauner. In 1922, after Bessarabia had become part of Romania, Michonze moved to Paris and met Max Ernst who later introduced him to the Surrealists, notably Paul Éluard, André Breton, André Masson and Yves Tanguy. Whilst furthering his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts, Michonze met and developed a strong friendship with the Jewish École de Paris artist Chaim Soutine.
Between the period 1934-1936, Michonze exhibited at the Salon des Sur indépendants. He described his work at these exhibitions as "Surreal naturalism". Michonze fought in the war and, after 1943, settled into a studio on Paris's Rue de Seine. He took up French citizenship in 1947, and in 1949, the French Fund for Modern Art acquired his now seminal canvas La moisson (The Harvest).
From 1954-1977, Michonze continued and perfected his life's work. He had extended stays in the United States where he spent time with his close friend, the American author Henry Miller. Michonze also travelled frequently to Israel where he exhibited, visited with his mother, and re-acquainted himself with his Jewish roots. He died of a heart attack in his studio at rue de Seine in Paris on December 29, 1982.
Known primarily as a landscape and figurative artist. A marked majority of his paintings include depictions of groups of people - families, villagers, peasants, children - and most works evince an allegory or narrative of some kind.
"My subjects have no subject. They exist only for a poetic end. If the poetry is there, the canvas is complete. No histories. Only pure poetry, preferably untitled."