The French artist Suzanne Valadon is the protagonist of a unique Exhibition at the Barnes, in the heart of Philadelphia, that introduces to the general public a late 19th – early 20th-century Woman of extraordinary qualities. The Exhibition will be open to the public until the 9th of January, 2021, and so far, the Artist and the Exhibition have been described as… A thrilling tour of [her] portraits, nudes, still lifes, and drawings by The New York Times, or… A brilliant artist making breathtaking paintings that have the flat, colorful solidity of Gauguin, but a piercing intelligence and emotional insight by The Washington Post, or… She is a maverick artist, who often drew from her own life to create a body of work that envisions the 20th-century woman by WHYY, and Breathing new life into rebellious early 20th-century art by the Broad Street Review. https://www.barnesfoundation.org/whats-on/exhibitions/suzanne-valadon?gclid=CjwKCAjwzaSLBhBJEiwAJSRokgRhEY928WI-tXfLFrUON5esRwP3uD8RRKR9pNAu2rdgIPlxP88W8hoCkC4QAvD_BwE
Born Marie-Clémentine, Suzanne Valadon, was born into poverty, as the daughter of an unmarried domestic worker. She grew up in Montmartre, the bohemian quarter of Paris, supporting herself from the age of ten with odd jobs: waitress, nanny, and circus performer. A fall from a trapeze led her in a new direction…that of modeling for some of the most important artists of her time. She was more than a model… she became the muse and the friend of artists like Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Miguel Utrillo, who agreed to give Maurice, Valadon’s son, born out of wedlock, his last name and legally recognize him as his son. Suzanne was artistic. She loved to draw while in the company of her artists/friends, practice her skills by observing them paint, and with the encouragement and tutelage of her mentor Edgar Degas, learn how to master the art of drawing and etching techniques. Valadon soon transitioned from an artist’s model into a successful artist with …a complicated personal life. She was a free spirit and a bohemian in every sense of the word… Suzanne Valadon, her second husband André Utter, and her son Maurice Utrillo were known as the trinité maudite (cursed trinity) because the family environment was characterized by violent outbursts, reconciliations, and alcoholism. https://nmwa.org/art/artists/suzanne-valadon/ and https://www.messynessychic.com/2021/10/15/renoirs-art-model-was-the-greatest-painter-you-never-heard-of/?fbclid=IwAR33WEcmDTxJ4n84O07M7RIJ1rv5WaCZb8Xtc8auSwKRndJhQPfTpaliFZI and https://www.arts-spectacles.com/Valadon-Utrillo-et-Utter-la-trinite-maudite-entre-Paris-et-Saint-Bernard-1909-1939-du-16-octobre-au-12-fevrier-2012_a6460.html
The artist is famous for her unapologetic female and male nudes… bold, controversial, and provocative! My favourite Valadon painting is her 1912 Self Portrait with Family…odd, disturbing, and unconventional. https://www.centrepompidou.fr/fr/ressources/oeuvre/cyjjkkA#&gid=viewer-lightbox&pid=0
The Centre Pompidou painting shows Suzanne Valadon in the center, flanked by André Utter, her second husband, her mother Magdeleine Valadon, and her son in the foreground, Maurice Utrillo. Suzanne Valadon is the only one directly facing the viewer, but she does so tentatively, with her hand on her chest… Utter and Madame Valadon are gazing to their right, each foreseeing a different future: the young man looks confident and rather content, while the woman – all wrinkled and slightly hunchbacked, with the corners of her mouth turned downwards – appears resigned. Maurice Utrillo’s depiction earns the most sympathy, for he seems to be the most miserable and out of place, gazing melancholically with his head leaning on his hand, as if he simply cannot muster the energy to stand or sit upright… What an unusual family portrait! https://artschaft.com/2018/05/23/suzanne-valadon-family-portrait-1912/
For a Student Activity inspired by the Exhibition at the Barnes, in Philadelphia, please… Check HERE!