On my social media I often share posts about other artists who inspire me. I have decided to start a blog post series based on the same thing. Here is the first installment.
Suzanne Valadon has what might be the coolest biography anyone could hope for.
She was born named Marie-Clémentine Valadon in Montmartre district of Paris.
What is Montmartre? The site of the famous Moulin Rouge, and an incubator of art and culture. A partial list of artists who hung out there over the years include Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, van Gogh, Raoul Dufy, Picasso, Les Nabis (Vuillard, Bonnard), Matisse, André Derain, and later Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, and Django Reinhardt.
She started modeling for artists, such as Puvis de Chavannes, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec. During this time, she gained the nickname "Suzanne" after the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders (a story where dirty old men spy on a naked young woman).
Valadon’s work seems to be mostly post-impressionism, but she really stood out because of the subjects she was willing to handle.
Most female painters at that time, such as Cassatt and Morisot confined themselves to landscape, still life, and domestic scenes involving children and women. Valadon painted all these subjects, as well... but she also did nudes.
And she painted nude men, unheard of at that time, and one of the first and few examples of a man being seen through the “female gaze”.
At 18, Valadon had a son who also became a famous painter, Maurice Utrillo. She married twice, once to a wealthy banker, and then to a man 21 years younger than she, Andre Utter. She died of a stroke in 1938 at age 72.
To top off the world’s coolest biography, she also has a crater on Venus named after her. And an asteroid.
How cool is that?
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