Sick of this late winter? Tube delays and leaky shoes? Me too. It seems that with every fresh sprinkling of snow, I’m forced to don yet another layer of mismatched knitwear and navigate through the streets of London, looking like a demented Russian doll. Suspicious looks tell me it’s not a hot look.
Deciding that enough is enough, I booked a last minute Eurostar to Paris last week, hoping that that a few spontaneous (and slightly warmer) days in a foreign country, complete with vin chauds, might help to charge up my batteries like an injection of Vitamin C. And the one place I find myself drawn to each time I visit the city is L’Orangerie – the beautiful museum situated just beyond the Louvre and home to eight spectacular Monet water-lily paintings.
But this time, my pilgrimage to the museum held less charm than it had in past years. Teeming with students and pensioners, the atmosphere was more manic than meditative. I decided to leave the Monet behind and ventured into the museum’s underbelly to explore a temporary exhibit instead – dedicated to a man named Paul Guillame, one of Paris’ most famed art collectors and cultural patrons.
Looking at the works on display, Guillame’s collection is prolific. There’s a Picasso here and a Gaugin there. A healthy smattering of impressionists too. All fairly dull fare because of their ubiquitous presence on Paris postcards and guide books. No, what truly left me reeling was discovering a tiny display of work by Marie Laurencin.
This series of pastel portraits – some of women dancing, others playing with flowers and dogs – were quite simply stunning. With their candy-coloured hues and exclusively female subject matter, I would have thought her work would be more well known over here in the UK, or more widely discussed in art history books. It turns out her largest body of work is currently housed in the Musée Marie Laurencin in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Handy that.
Reading up on her back at home, I soon found that Laurencin was also a pioneer of sorts: a close friend of Pablo Picasso,you can see influences of Cubism throughout her art – albeit a more feminine and refreshing take. It was also rumored she was a sometime lover of the poet Apollinaire and the closest thing he had to a muse. She designed costumes for the Ballet Russes in the mid-twenties and became famed for her society portraits (her painting of Coco Chanel formed part of L’Orangerie’s current exhibition).
I am always sceptical when people recommend art or artists to me. Call it the effect of verbose press releases or some seriously crap modern art exhibits, I rarely come across something that really moves me. But this did. And standing in the corner of the temporary exhibition, I found that unexpected burst of sunshine I was looking for
What do you think of Laurencin’s work? Give us a tweet @Style_ThenSome to let us know your thoughts
Picture Credit: L’Orangerie/ ADAGP Paris