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    Irena Reno – painter fascinated with modernity

    Irena Hassenberg (Reno), an artist, painter and lithographer from Poland, is a little-known figure. Her biography is widely described in the book “Polish Women at Montparnasse” by Sylwia Zientek. Reno was the first European to paint and draw Manhattan and New York landscapes,” notes Zientek.

    In Sylwia Zientek’s book “Polish Women at Montparnassie” next to such painters as Mela Muter, Olga Boznańska, Alicja Halicka there appears a figure of Irena Hassenberg who adopted the pseudonym Reno. During her travels and numerous researches, the writer discovered unknown facts about the artist’s life.


    “One of the characters in the book is a practically unknown artist – Irena Reno (born Hassenberg) in Warsaw in 1884. Until now, her fate has remained unexplored. And she was a great painter, an outstanding draughtswoman whose style is associated with the energetic line of Raoul Dufy,” says Zientek.


    “The creation of this biography was contributed to by chance. A few years ago, my husband and I bought an interesting pastel signed with Reno’s name, and that moment was a strong impetus to start working on the book in earnest. I had no idea who Reno was, and couldn’t find out much about her. I found very little information about her at the time, some of which later turned out to be untrue, such as the place of her death or the fact that she was in a concentration camp. In the course of working on the book, thanks to intensive research and a bit of luck, I managed to find unique materials on this artist in the south of France, even her intimate diary! Thanks to this, “Polish Women at Montparnasse” featured the extremely interesting fate of Irena Reno,” she adds. On the pages of the book, the reader can also see many reproductions of this artist’s works.


    Irena Janina Hassenberg was the daughter of Fabian Hassenberg and Flora Tennebaum. She graduated from the Warsaw School of Fine Arts and went to Paris in 1905. She quickly found herself in a new environment, established numerous contacts, and by 1907 her works were exhibited at the Autumn Salon.


    During her research, Sylwia Zientek found, among others, the diary of Irena Reno. “In her diaries, Reno often recalls the sense of joy and pride that her spacious studio on Boulevard Raspail filled her with,” Zientek writes. 


    Soon there are significant successes in the artist’s life. At the turn of 1922 and 1923, the well-known American collector and philanthropist Alfred C. Barnes, with the support of the Parisian art dealer Paul Guillaume, bought fifty paintings by Eastern European painters working in Montparnasse. This gigantic deal and high prices are causing “Barnes fever”.


    Irena Reno’s works appear from time to time on the Polish art market. In the last decade her works “Sunday in the Park”, “Almond Trees”, “Harbour”, “On the Table” were auctioned at Desa. These paintings have reached prices of several thousand zlotys.


    The book by Sylwia Zientek entitled “Polish Women in Montparnasse” has been recently published by the “Marginesy” publishing house.


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