Marie Laurencin was a French illustrator, painter, and stage designer. She is known for being a respected and key member of the Paris avant-guarde movement, and one of the few female cubist artists.
Laurencin started her artistic career studying porcelain painting at the Sèvres factory. From there she studied under the Madelaine Lemaire, a famous floral painter in France at the time. At Laurencin’s first exhibition in 1907 at the Salon des Indépendants, she became acquainted with a few members of the Cubist circle, including Picasso, Francis Picabia, Robert Delaunay, Jean Metzinger and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, whom she had a relationship with until 1912.
Laurencin was widely accepted with painters and poets associated with the Bateau-Lavoir, and her art during these periods highly reflected their influence, with flat, geometric planes, muddy color palette, and abstracted figures and forms in her paintings.
During WWI Laurencin- like many artists in France at the time, escaped to Spain. She greatly missed France and struggled with her exile in Spain, which caused her to produce very few paintings. Shortly after the war, Laurencin returned to France. Upon her arrival Andre Breton, Max Jacob, and other Surrealist and Dada writers published a collection of poems, in L’Eventail, in honor of her return.
By the 1920s Laurencin had developed a signature artistic style that she would be known for. Her portraits of this era are typically of women shrouded and surrounded by soft pastel colors and cool grey tones with haunting black eyes. The figures are still mostly constructed of flat planes of color, but there is more of a softness to the forms than in her earlier works. Art historians theorize that her distinctly ‘feminine’ style was a direct response to the male dominated cubist movement. She brought her own perspective on what cubism could mean in a way that was very unique to the art movement.
Laurencin continued creating art throughout her life, and her distinct style remained the same, though near the end of her life her paintings developed brighter color palettes. Several of her works are currently at L’orangerie, and the MoMA. In 1983, the Musée Marie Laurencin in Nagano Prefecture, which houses over 500 of her paintings and drawings.