Marie Laurencin

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Marie Laurencin is considered to be an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde Cubist movement association with the Section d’Or. The French painter, printmaker and stage designer made a name for herself by making delicate portraits of women in an elegant and melancholic fashion. Laurencin was heavily influenced by Cubist painters and most of her work consists of gentle palettes in gray, pink and pastel undertones. World War I had a profound impact on her work and the paintings which followed after the war ended were much darker in nature. Unable to paint and forced to flee her homeland and, Laurencin didn’t paint for many years until the war had ended.

Marie was born in 1883 in Paris, France and was raised predominantly by her mother. By the age of 18 Marie had started studying porcelain painting at Sevres and continued her art education at the Academie Humbert in Paris. It was in Paris that her art focus shifted to encompass oil paintings as well. In Paris she also met Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, both of whom supported her in her art quest and introduced her to the Cubism movement of art. With Apollinaire Marie also embarked on a torrid and passionate affair and he is credited as being the one who told her to be brave enough to  experiment with her work. Most of Laurencin’s works comprise of willowy, ethereal female figures in soft pastel colors, there is a strong element of enchantment associated with some of her works as in the case of the Portrait of Madame Paul Guillaume. You see a stylish woman decked in the latest Parisian fashion with a bouquet of flowers in her lap. Laurencin paints the portrait in her signature delicate pastel style giving the painting a magical feeling. Laurencin also painted numerous Parisian celebrities and produced many theatre sets including the Ballets Russes. It was later on in her life that she developed a taste of metamorphosis in her paintings, the merging of the young female form and animals. Like her work The Does which contains a perfect meshing of a central female object with does around her. The way Laurencin has painted the object it seems as if the does and the female are all intertwined together. Laurencin is one of the only few female Cubist painters who managed to make a mark in the art work along the likes of Marie Vorobieff, Franciska Clausen and Sonia Delauney. She continued to paint well into her late life, even doing a brief stint working as an art instructor in a private school in Paris.

Marie Laurencin even designed the cover of numerous books including the cover illustration of Alice Through the Looking Glass. She managed to paint a convincing illusion of the female form and through her stage designs eventually adopting a lighter palette design in some of her last works. To this day she remains a key figure of the 20th century as one of the few female painters to dared to reform the female aesthetic in a male dominated field. In 1983, on her 100th birth anniversary, the Musee Marie Laurencin opened in Japan which contained more than 500 of her works.

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