Monday, May 27, 2013

Laurencin, Marie

Portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel
oil on canvas
92.0 x 73.0cm
Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, France

In 1923 Laurencin was working on the costumes and sets for Les Biches performed by Serge Diaghilev's Russian Ballets. Coco Chanel, who was creating costumes for the same company's Le Train Bleu at the time, asked Laurencin to paint her portrait. Laurencin painted Chanel in a languid pose draped in blue and black with one shoulder bare. The fluid lines, subtly shifting colors and the sitter's dreamy expression are typical of Laurencin's work, but Chanel - designer of ‘the little black dress’ and the Chanel suit - turned the painting down, saying it did not look like her.

Marie Laurencin (1883 - 1956) was a French painter, stage designer and illustrator. She studied porcelain painting at 18.
Picasso and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire (she once became romantically involved with Guillaume Apollinaire, and has often been identified as his muse) supported her and integrated her in discussions about art theory, which lead to Cubism. Laurencin's own creative work, however, remained untouched by such theoretical demands.
Her work shows mainly lyrical motifs like graceful, dreamy young girls in pastel coloring and soft shading. This color-sensitive inventiveness leads to a variation of repetitions of form and motifs. The influence of Persian miniature painting and Rococo art are undeniable.

During the early years of the 20th century, Laurencin was an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde.
In 1983, on the one hundredth anniversary of Laurencin's birth, the Musee Marie Laurencin opened in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The museum is home to more than 500 of her works and an archive.