October 31 1885 - June 08 1956
Photograph of Marie Laurencin, 1949, by Carl Van Vechten. Gelatin silver print. The Carl Van Vechten photograph collection. The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC, USA
Place of Birth:
Decorative and utilitarian works, Drawings and prints, Painting, Textiles and clothing
Costume Designer, Designer, Etcher, Illustrator, Lithographer, Oil Painter, Portraitist, Printmaker, Set Designer
Known for her paintings of women in airy pastel colors, Marie Laurencin’s insistence on maintaining her own unique style assisted her in achieving artistic celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s. Although commonly described as merely an artist’s muse, Laurencin’s perseverance and achievements enabled her to transcend this passive role as she developed her career as an artist and designer.
Born in Paris in 1885, Laurencin’s artistic education began in 1902 at the École de Sèvres where she received training as a porcelain painter. Although not encouraged to pursue art, she was determined to become a painter and continued her studies at the Académie Humbert from 1903 to 1904. During the course of her education Laurencin became friends with Georges Braque who introduced the young Laurencin to his friends, a group of artists including Cubist painter Pablo Picasso and writer and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire.
She soon became romantically involved with Apollinaire and during the course of their affair, which lasted from 1907 to 1912, Apollinaire enjoyed a prolific period of poetry and art criticism, identifying Laurencin as his muse and a Cubist; however, among other Cubist artists, Laurencin found little encouragement. She struggled with identifying with the explosive ideas of this male-dominated artistic movement and instead of attempting to adopt the style of those around her, continued to paint almost Impressionistic images of women and children. Feeling marginalized as a female artist, Laurencin remained on the periphery. After ending her relationship with Apollinaire, Laurencin married another artist, Otto van Wätjen in 1912.
During World War I, Laurencin left Paris for Spain. In 1920, she returned to Paris where she began a successful career as a designer. Having divorced her husband in 1921, she began a prolific period designing sets and costumes for ballets and other performances, including Francis Poulenc’s ballet Les Biches
. In addition, Laurencin continued to become more renowned for her paintings of fashionably dressed adolescent girls and idealized images of contemplative women. Despite the criticism that her rendering of all women’s faces was in her own likeness, her portraiture became highly sought after. Critics described Laurencin’s work as being quintessentially feminine; however, Laurencin’s persistence enabled her to develop her own distinct artistic identity.
Académie Humbert, Paris, France (1903-1904)
École de Sèvres, Paris, France (1902)
wife of Otto van Wätjen
friend of Georges Braque
friend of Pablo Picasso
friend of Francis Picabia
friend of Douanier Rousseau
friend of Henri Matisse
friend of Juan Gris
friend of Alice Bailly
student of Madeleine-Jeanne Lemaire
Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, Republic of France, Paris, France (1937)
Government Commission, Exposition Universelle, Paris, France (1937)