Despite being closely associated with Picasso, Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein and exhibiting with the Salon cubists in the early twentieth century, Marie Laurencin has been largely excluded from art historical scholarship.
The poet, Apollinaire, with whom she had a brief affair, described her paintings as ‘quintessentially feminine’. Laurencin often worked in a palette of soft pastel colours to depict eroticised, nymph-like young girls such as in Elegant Ball, Dance in the Country (1913). Her paintings of this type have been largely mis-interpreted as conforming to traditional gender norms in both form and content, with no place in feminist art history. However, a more recent biographical study of Laurencin, by Elizabeth Louise Khan has revealed more detailed aspects of the artist’s sexuality and the potential homo-erotic aspects in her paintings of groups of women. Khan claims that for this reason, ‘As a subject in the history of art, Marie Laurencin is worth the scholarly effort because she complicated rather than codifies our academic methodologies, and she further reminds us of how unwittingly we can be fixed in our current politically comfortable niches.’ Moreover, the compositional similarities between Picasso’s widely acclaimed Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Laurencin’s Young Girls (1910-11) reveals the art historical significance of her painting.
Leyden Gallery is extremely proud to be showing a print by Laurencin, depicting the writer Charlotte Brontë in its current summer exhibition. An extremely interesting artist, whose work is ripe for further scholarly attention, we are pleased to be promoting Laurencin in our gallery along with a number of contemporary women artists so that their work can be seen in a cross-generational dialogue.