Marie Laurencin (Primary Title)
The French painter, printmaker, and illustrator Marie Laurencin (1883–1956) was an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde and one of the best-known women artists of her generation. The artist’s early work had strong affiliations with Cubism, but by 1923, when Man Ray photographed her in his studio, Laurencin had developed an international reputation for her paintings, watercolors, and prints of women and young girls, which collectors admired for their grace, charm, and deliberate naiveté. The timeless femininity that Laurencin aspired to in her paintings also manifested itself in her appearance and persona, as seen in Man Ray’s portrait, which shows the artist in profile with fashionably bobbed hair, a flower-print blouse, and her trademark demure countenance. Although critics and art historians disparaged her work during her lifetime, relegating it to the margins of modernism, recent scholars have reclaimed the sexual politics and queer identity of Laurencin’s paintings and works on paper. Her artworks, which often focused on women from Greek mythology or ancient history such as Artemis, Diana, Salomé, and Sappho, connect Laurencin with the lesbian community in Paris, including the writer Nathalie Clifford Barney, the journalist Janet Flanner, and the photographer Berenice Abbott.
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