Abe Rattner's Paris
Rattner was a New York native, having been born in Poughkeepsie in 1895. After high school, he pursued an education in Architecture, but studied Art as well. He served in France during WWI, in a camouflage division.
Back in the U.S., he was awarded a scholarship to study art in Europe. In 1921, at age 26, he settled in Paris for several years.
As an art student, Rattner first studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian (1921-23). He spent part of 1922 painting in Giverny, France--the impressionist landscape of Monet [whom he would later meet in Paris].
Rattner returned to Paris in 1923 and studied at the Academie Ransom for a year. Fete Bretonne (below) was painted in 1923.
1924 was an eventful year for Abe. He began exhibiting his work in Paris, at the Salon D'Automne and the Salon des Independents. He also married an art student named Bettina Bedwell, who became a Paris fashion correspondent for American media.
During a stay at Le Pouldu inn [link here to see Gauguin's view of it] in Brittany in 1924, Rattner made an artisitic discovery: an original Gauguin work from 1890, painted on a wall of the inn and covered up by wallpaper. Rattner bought the entire wall and had it shipped to Paris (he sold it in 1965; it's value today is approximately $2,000,000). By the end of 1924, Abe was studying at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, followed by the Sorbonne in 1925.
In 1927, Rattner became a member of a prestigious artistic group called Minotaure, which included the likes of Picasso, Miro, Braque, and Dali. In 1931, Rattner's Fire [top] accompanied a Dos Passos article in Verve magazine.
After several more years of living as an artist in Paris, Rattner finally had his first solo exhibit in 1935, at the Galerie Bonjean. That same year, Rattner's Card Party was purchased by the Louvre. His first one-man show in the U.S. followed the next year.
I'm not sure exactly when Abe met Henry Miller in Paris, but it was at least by March 1937, when Anais Nin noted in her diary that "[Henry's] friends, the Rattners, were invited to celebrate [the signing of a contract for a translation of Tropic Of Cancer]. Abe Rattner paints like Rouault." Rattner was 42; Miller, 45. Rattner had been in Paris for 16 years; Miller for 7. The Rattner-Miller letters in the Rattner archive begin in 1937, further suggesting that this was indeed the year they became friends.
Miller's interpretative work on Nin's dreams, called Scenario (A Film Without Sound), was published in a limited edition of 200 by Obelisk Press in 1937; Rattner provided the illustrations. In September 1937, Abe also lent an illustration for the debut Miller-Perles edition of The Booster.
In 1939, with war looming and France under threat of invasion, Miller left for Greece and Rattner left for the U.S. Abe kept paying for his Paris apartment throughout the war, and held onto it his whole life, returning to Paris many times throughout.
Rattner wrote about Paris in a 1945 article called An American In Paris, published in Magazine Of Art.