Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laurencin, Marie

Les Biches
oil on canvas
size unknown
Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, France

Les biches is Nijinska's ballet, performed by Serge Diaghilev's Russian Ballets in 1924. The word biche usually translated as hind, or a female deer. The set and costumes were designed by Marie Laurencin. In the center of the canvas, a woman stretches her legs in the manner of deer. The face of the woman is reduced to two oblong eyes closed like those of animals.

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.