Galerie des Modernes

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Marie Laurencin

Cubism, Fauvism, Portraits

(Paris, 1883 - Paris, 1956)

Marie Laurencin

Classmate of Braque, muse of Apollinaire, Matisse disciple, supported by Derain, Picasso's friend until their break up, Marie Laurencin is an iconic character.

In the fall of 1901, Bachelor among only a few thousand, she intended to become a teacher but betrays the views of his mother and enrolled for three years with Pauline Lambert to become a porcelain painter. At the start in 1902, she joins the Humbert Academy where she meets Francis Picabia, Georges Braque and Lepape. These companions became his first admirers and encourage her to abandon the craft, to persevere in the artistic way that her mother disapproved. Braque quickly noticed the talent of his comrade and integrated her into the circle of Picasso where poets and artists mingled.

In 1907, she exhibited for the first time at Salon des Independants in Paris. In 1912, she exhibited her artworks with Robert Delaunay at Barbazangues Gallery and participated to the decoration of the Cubist House of the Salon d’Automne. In 1937 during the Great Exhibition of Independent Art Masters (Petit Palais), she presented an exemplary choice of her pieces, including Portraits (1904), Portrait of young woman with black and pink hat (1908), G. Apollinaire and his family – Marie Laurencin in blue (1936), and The Blue Angel (1929). In 1994, the foundation Gianadda (Martigny) presents a retrospective of her artwork.

Marie Laurencin became painter of young woman with deer eyes. She mixes – as many poets – realism and fairy. Her model was often her housekeeper’s daughter. The art dealer Paul Rosenberg signed a contract with her and contributed to her renown with his exhibitions. Her natural tropism inspired her a “laurencine” painting, elegant and intensive, which is in keeping with decorative art of this time.

Married to a German painter, she leaved France during the Second World War for Spain, where she met Gleizes, Cravan, Gauthier and Picabia. She returned to Paris in 1920.  After the First World War and her Spanish exile, she prefered company of writers as Paul Valery, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Paul Morand and Alexis Léger to artists. In 1923, she realised decors and costumes for The Hinds Ballet by Francis Poulenc. Since 1923, she became official portraitist of personalities as Coco Chanel. Her art peaks in portrait and embodies, during Golden Twenty, the French refinement of taste.  She is the popular portraitist of a society where reign Baroness Gourgaud, Countess Etienne de Beaumont and Lady Cunard, surrounded by man as the smart Jean Cocteau.

Her friendships inspired her numerous variations and self-portraits around an eternal feminine: round dance of young women with timeless figures and pearls or flowers. In her maturity, Marie Laurencin preferred company of writers than painters. She continued to reinvent a world of dreams with poetical freshness. 

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