Revealing the vital influence of the French artist Marie Laurencin, her visual idiom, and her sexual expression on the modernism of twentieth-century Paris
This book offers a long-overdue reassessment of the career of the Parisian-born artist Marie Laurencin (1883–1956), who moved seamlessly between the Cubist avant-garde and lesbian literary and artistic circles, as well as the realms fashion, ballet, and decorative arts. Critical essays explore her early experiments with Cubism; her exile in Spain during World War I; her collaborative projects with major figures of her time such as André Mare, Serge Diaghilev, Francis Poulenc, and André Groult; and her role in the emergence of a “Sapphic modernity” in Paris in the 1920s. Along with more than 60 full-color plates, Laurencin’s life and career are documented through an illustrated chronology and exhibition history, as well as an appendix charting her network of female patrons and associates. Laurencin became a fixture of the contemporary art scene in pre–World War I Paris, including as a muse and romantic partner of the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. She returned to the city after the war, having developed her signature style of diaphanous female figures in a blue-rose-gray palette. Laurencin’s feminine yet sexually fluid aesthetic defined 1920s Paris, and her work as an artist and designer met with high demand, with commissions by Ballets Russes and Coco Chanel, among others. Her romantic relationships with women inspired homoerotic paintings that visualized the modern Sapphism of contemporary lesbian writers like Nathalie Clifford Barney. Indeed, one of Laurencin’s final projects was to illustrate the poems of Sappho in 1950.
Distributed for the Barnes Foundation
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (October 22, 2023–January 21, 2024)
Simonetta Fraquelli is a freelance art historian and consultant curator. Cindy Kang is curator at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.
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