Saturday, March 31, 2012

Utrillo, Maurice

Church Saint-Pierre
oil on cardboard
107 x 76 cm
Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, France

Maurice Utrillo (1883 - 1955) was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes.
Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, as the illegitimate son of a painter, he learned the skills from his mother, who wanted to keep him away from his addiction to alcohol. He soon showed real artistic talent. With no training beyond what his mother taught him, he drew and painted what he saw in Montmartre.
After 1910 his work attracted critical attention, and by 1920 he was internationally acclaimed.
In 1928, the French government awarded him the Cross of the Légion d'honneur.

In middle age he became fervently religious and in 1935, at the age of fifty-two, he married Lucie Valore and moved to just outside of Paris. By that time, he was too ill to work in the open air and painted landscapes viewed from windows, from post cards, and from memory. Throughout his life, he was plagued by alcoholism and his mental disorder resulted in his being interned in mental asylums repeatedly.

His paintings up until 1907 are dominated by the colors yellow, turquoise, wine red and zinc white. From 1909 to 1914 he confines his palette to white and shades of gray. In order to attain a greater realistic effect with his paintings, he mixed sand and gypsum into the paint. This so-called "Periode blanche" (White Period) marks the highlight of Utrillo's creation.