Marie Laurencin French, 1883-1956


Marie Laurencin was born in Paris on October 31, 1883. She was born out of wedlock to Pauline Laurencin and Alfred Toulet, a man about whom she knew nothing until she was a grown woman. At the behest of her mother Marie at the age of eighteen began to study porcelain painting in Sevres, the leading porcelain factory in Europe at the time. She later returned to Paris in 1903 and enrolled in the modest Académie Humbert to study art. It was here that Marie decided to concentrate on oil painting at the urging of fellow artist and student Georges Braque, who introduced her to such other artistic luminaries as Pablo Picasso along with the writers, poets, musicians, and artists who called Monmontre home at the time. During this period Marie met the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who became both her lover and her greatest advocate in the press. In these critical years before World War I Marie was involved with the experimental and avant-garde Parisian circle of artists which counted Picasso, Fernand Leger, Marcel Duchamp, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, Robert Delaunay, André Lhote and Louis Marcoussis among its members. Her works hung along side of the Cubists at the Galerie Boëtie in 1912, although her pictures were decidedly more feminine than those of the Cubists. Additionally Marie collaborated on the Maison Cubiste with Duchamp-Villon and André Mare, a project which represented her first foray into the field of design. She was a part of the landmark Armory Show of 1913 in New York. After the war and a disastrous marriage to a German which caused the couple to flee France for Spain, Marie returned to Paris to embrace the Jazz Age in post World War I Paris, a particularly intoxicating and exciting time for artists like Marie, who experimented in many different kinds of media including poetry; book illustrations for such works as Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"; set designs for Diaghilev's "Ballets Russe" and the "Comédie Francaise" in 1928; costume design; interior design; and lithography in addition to painting. Marie also took on portrait commissions for women, the most famous of which was her portrait of Coco Chanel. Her work in pastels and curvilinear designs stood as a check to the modernism of the day and defined her work as a feminine alternative to the arrogant, somewhat brash, and linear Cubism of her peers. Her works bespoke the image of the modern woman in the Art-Deco inspired Jazz Age of Paris and provided a lucrative income during the 1940's, as her works were in great demand. On June 6, 1956 Marie Laurencin died of a heart attack and was buried according to her wishes in Père Lachaise Cemetery dressed in a white dress with a rose in her hand and the letters from her first lover Guillaume Apollinaire next to her heart.


Salon des Indépendents, 1907, 1910, 1911

Galerie Boëtie, 1912

Galerie Barbazanges, 1912

Armory Show, New York, 1913

Rosenberg Gallery, 1920

Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industrielles Modernes, 1925

Museums and Public Collections

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Art Institute of Chicago, IL

Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA

Chi-Mei Museum, Taiwan, China

Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio

Cummer Museum of Art, Jacksonville, Florida

Currier Gallery of Art, New Hampshire

Dallas Art Museum, Texas

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California

Harvard University Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana

Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri

Laurencin Museum, Nagano, Japan

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Minneapolis Museum of Art, Minnesota

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Musée de Grenoble, France

Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, France

Musée Marie Laurencin, Tokyo, Japan

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

New York Public Library, NY

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania

Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago

Tate Gallery, London, England

Toledo Museum of Art, OH

Winnepeg Art Gallery, Manitoba

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