Marie Laurencin was an important figure in the Paris avant-garde, producing portraits, paintings, drawings, and prints. She painted and illustrated with pastel colors and curvilinear, arabesque lines. Her subjects were nearly always women, either singly or in groups, posed in dreamlike settings.
When she was 18 years old, she studied porcelain painting in Sevres. She returned to Paris and studied at the Academie Humbert. There she met Georges Braque. In 1907, she exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Independents, the year she met Picasso and the other artists who visited his studio in the Bateau Lavoir in Montparnasse. She had a relationship with the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and was thought to be his muse.
In 1912, she had her first personal show with Robert Delaunay in Paris and took part in the decorations of the Maison Cubiste at the Salon d’Automne. In 1914, she married Otto von Watjen and lost her French citizenship. After their divorce in 1921, she returned to Paris and achieved financial Success until the economic depression of the 1930s.
In her paintings which focused on portraits of females, she used pastel colors and curved forms in a feminine aesthetic which served as a response to the masculinity of Cubism. She also designed costumes and stage sets for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and for the Comedie Francaise. After World War II, she designed for the Compagnie des Champs-Élysées and illustrated books, such as Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
In 1983, the Musee Marie Laurencin was opened in Japan. It holds 500 of her works and her archive.