Une femme inadaptée in Feminist Histories of Art
Marie Laurencin, in spite of the noticeable reputation she made in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century, has attracted only sporadic attention by late-twentieth century art historians. Until now the substance of her art and the feminist issues that were entangled in her life have been narrowly examined or reduced by an author's chosen theoretical format; and the terms of her lesbian identity have been overlooked. In this case study of une femme inadaptée and an unfit feminist, Elizabeth Kahn re-situates Laurencin in the on-going feminist debates that enrich the disciplines of art history, women's studies and literary criticism. Kahn's thorough reading of the artist's visual and literary production ensures a comprehensive overview which addresses notable works and passages but also integrates those that are less well known. Incorporating feminist theory and building on the work of contemporary feminist art historians, she avoids the heroics of conventional biography, instead allowing her subject to participate in the historical collective of women's work. Provocative and engagingly written, this fresh new study of Marie Laurencin's life and works also explores the multiple valences by which to connect the histories of, and find new connections between, women artists across the twentieth century.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction: Une femme inadaptée or the case of the unfit feminist; A Not So Straight Biography: Out of step: Social class and surrogate men, 1883-1923; Strangely estranged women: Gertrude Stein, Fernande Olivier and Marie Laurencin; Laurencin's insiders: Flora Groult, Louise Faure-Favier; The Laurencin self portraits: Subject, object, spectacle? Marie Laurencin's Men of the Avant-Garde: The monkey on her shoulder: Marie Laurencin's Guillaume Apollinaire; André Salmon in Marie Laurencin's court; Walking the line: Roger Allard's 1921 Laurencin monograph; Sexual politics: Marie Laurencin and Pablo Picasso; Marie Laurencin, the scandal of the Cubist House and André Mare; Laurencin's 'old men' of the Great War; Five in Hand: Sexual Politics and the Women of the Avant-Garde: Foiled again: The modern woman artist; Women of the fan: Berthe Morisot and Marie Laurencin; Feminist moments: The Great War, childless women, Mary Cassatt and Marie Laurencin; Illegitimate women: Suzanne Valadon and Marie Laurencin; The 'queerest' feminists the world has ever seen: Romaine Brooks and Marie Laurencin; Pictures That Could Not Have Been Painted: A Feminist Lesbian Reading: Not the modern woman? Laurencin's Amazons; Naming the Laurencin goddesses, 1904 -14; Sisters, playmates and lovers: Laurencin's unnamed goddesses; The Great War's 'new woman' and her lesbian gaze; The Marie Laurencin lesbian heroine; Laurencin's Final Say: The Artist as Ghostwriter: Postscript: Trespassing on the banks of feminist art; Les filles ambigÃ¼es: Louise Bourgeois and Marie Laurencin; Unfit feminists I and II: Hannah Wilke and Marie Laurencin; Fan ladies and women warriors: Harmony Hammond and Marie Laurencin; Continuum: Julia Mystère; Bibliography; Index.
'Elizabeth Kahn's impressive and timely study rescues Marie Laurencin from the margins of modern art. She emerges here not just as the mysterious and beguiling woman who inspired the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and painted the members of Picasso's cubist circle, but as a complex, multifaceted pioneer: in her painting, her writing, and her radical sexuality.' Whitney Chadwick, author of Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement