Van Gogh •
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Marie Laurencin was born in Paris and attended the Lycee Lamartine until the age of twenty.
Although both her mother and her drawing teacher encouraged her in her earliest attempts to draw, she was determined to become a painter and studied drawing at night before attending the Académie Humbert. There she eventually made the acquaintance of Braque, and through him at the Bateau Lavoir she met Picasso and Apollinaire, whose companion she was for several years. In about 1905 she published her first collection of poetry, signing them Louise Lalanne. She continued publishing occasionally throughout the rest of her life.
Although surrounded in her formative years by Cubist painters, Laurencin created her own style of pale, airy works. Principally watercolors and pastels, they depict black-eyed faintly melancholy women-surrounded by gauzy veils, feathers, and flowers-who look vaguely out at the world very much as Laurencin herself was said to do. Laurencin was very near-sighted, and this weakness may have caused her to omit details. She also painted flowery still lives and portraits of children, often with pet cats or dogs. Her palette was a simple one: black, white, cobalt blue, deep madder, ocher yellow, emerald green. Always happier in the company of writers, rather than artists, she made lithographs and watercolors to illustrate many books, among them Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland". She painted sets for the "Ballets Russes" and for the "Comedie Francaise"; in both instances for dreamy, romantic pieces, to which her talents were most suited.
Laurencin's own self-portrait, in prose rather than on canvas, reads: "Loves luxury, very proud of being born in Paris. Knows all the songs from "Sylvie", (an operetta). Dislikes speeches, scoldings, advice, and compliments. Eats fast, walks fast. Paints very slowly." Although she complained of ill health for many years, she lived to be seventy one (or perhaps even longer, as some critics said she lied about her age), happy with her books, her small house in the Forest of Senart, and the success that brought her luxury.