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PROFILE. Anna Chromý, the artist and eternal perfectionist with a big heart

Anna Chromy
© Anna Chromy

A brilliant painter, sculptor and designer, Anna Chromý passed away on September 18, at the age of 81. Two close friends agreed to talk to us about the artist but also the woman that was Anna Chromý.

“Sweet”, “kind”, “humble”, “discreet”, “generous”, “talented” … Odile Thomas and Margie Lombard are full of praise for their friend. Because beyond the artist, who made her mark on Monaco on several occasions, it is above all her human qualities that the two women remember.

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The art of raising awareness

“I got on with her straight away,” says Margie, the manager of a beauty institute in Monaco, of their 33-year friendship.  “She is deeply human, kind …  Everything she does, she does with her heart.”

Odile, president of ACMÉ (Mediterranean Cultural Association), finds it hard to talk about Anna in the past tense.  “To me, she is still alive.  She is full of kindness and generosity.  She glows, she’s always smiling, she is always elegant: I have never seen her without her hair done or looking unkempt.”

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Anna Chromy
To be or not to be – © Anna Chromý

It was through a shared love of art that the two women became friends, 20 years ago.  Odile, a trained organist, would see Anna regularly at the opera or at concerts.  “She loves art and above all, she likes to pass on her passion for art.  She adores Mozart, she even sculpted bronzes of the main characters from Don Giovanni.”

Art was part of Anna Chromý’s life from childhood.  Born in Czechoslovakia, the musician’s daughter finally gave up her career as a secretary with the unconditional support of her husband.  She first tried painting after training at the École des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts School) in Paris.  Her paintings were resolutely contemporary and avant-garde, with shimmering colours, and she even became the muse of the famous painter Salvador Dalí.

“She carried a lot of pain, a lot of sadness inside.  These paintings helped her to overcome life’s challenges, ”says Margie.  With an ability to portray the human body without a model, the themes Anna Chromý explored were wide-ranging but also forward-looking.  She was already addressing climate and environmental issues in the 1970s, for example.

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“Generally speaking, she wanted to raise people’s awareness, prick their conscience.”  Conscience.  A subject that led her to undertake her most famous work: The Cloak of Conscience and Tolerance.  It is an immense block of marble weighing several tons, which Anna Chromý refined and polished to create a perfectly smooth drape in the sculpture’s fabric folds .

Anna Chromy
The Cloak, in the Jardins de Saint-Martin in Monaco – © Anna Chromý

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Overcoming challenges

“She is a perfectionist and a lover of Beauty,” explains Odile. “She has turned marble into a pure stone. She even waited for five years before finding THE marble she wanted to make this sculpture with.  She is uncompromising.”

Inspired by Raphael and Michelangelo, Anna Chromý turned to sculpture after an accident that prevented her from painting.  Some of her works, which can be found on her website, have even made their way to Monaco, notably at the Prince’s Palace, the Yacht Club and the Jardins de Saint-Martin.

“Prince Albert II admires her” says Odile.  It was mutual, according to Margie.  “Anna was very fond of the Prince, but also of the sea, the calm and the safety of Monaco”. All of these reasons led the artist to settle in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. It was a chance for her to try her hand at chromatology (an artistic process based on the study of colours) and drawing.

Her creations have been around the world. From China to Japan, via Hong Kong, the United States, Austria, Spain and Italy, her art has reached a wide audience. “She is undoubtedly the most famous European artist in China” confides Odile. “And despite that, she remained very humble, very discreet,” adds Margie.

Keeping the memory of Anna Chromý alive

The two women are also fighting to fulfill Anna Chromý’s last wish: to have the Cloak of Conscience sculpture installed in the Vatican. “She was very religious and I will fight to carry out her last wish,” Margie vows.

“She was a very pure person,” says Margie. “It is a great loss, in both artistic and human terms.”  “She will be missed by a lot of people,” confirms Odile.  With ACMÉ, Odile was determined to organise a final tribute, on November 22, in the church at Monaco’s Sacré-Coeur.  The tenor Franck Asparte performed a repertoire of religious arias and opera songs, accompanied on the organ by Jean-Christophe Aurnague, composer and resident organist at the Sacré-Cœur.

“It was an extraordinary tribute,” says  Margie with emotion.  Many people who loved and admired the artist made the trip from Zurich, Paris or Vienna, to pay tribute one last time to the memory of Anna Chromý, a woman who, in the words of Odile Thomas, “believed deeply in the values of beauty, goodness and truth”.

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