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The Blue Room

Suzanne Valadon

The Blue Room

Suzanne Valadon
  • Original Title: La chambre bleue
  • Date: 1923; Paris, France  
  • Style: Post-Impressionism
  • Genre: genre painting
  • Media: oil, canvas
  • Dimensions: 90 x 116 cm
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The famous escapades of Suzanne Valadon (her lovers, her sensational breakups, her alcoholic son) have obscured the originality of her career. From modest origins, she worked young and carried out many activities before becoming familiar – she was then a model – with artists' studios, at a time when the space of women of her social condition was reduced to domestic interiors. His apprenticeship is made of sketches of everyday scenes, street workers, ordinary people, and his models are more often members of his entourage than professionals. The odalisque of The Blue Room takes up a pictorial cliché to reformulate it. The woman lying on the bed is not naked, but dressed, not in the oriental style like Matisse's odalisques, but like a modern woman. His shirt with suspenders, his striped pajamas not only evoke eroticism or sexual expectation but also the rest of a body in the comfort of loose and colorful clothes, which affirm a desire for modernity. The detail of the cigarette, ostensibly stuck in the mouth, then characterizes women of little virtue, like the gigolettes of Kupka or the women artists. This modernity is attached here to the representation of a mature woman, with thick hands, a weary and heavy body, with heavy breasts. According to Valadon, “you have to have the courage to look the model in the face if you want to reach the soul. Never bring me to paint a woman who is looking for the lovable or the pretty, I will disappoint her right away. The composition, which takes up the traditional scheme of the voluptuous nude framed by curtains, takes us into the bohemian intimacy of the studio saturated with intense blues. Lost in thought, the woman forgets the painter's intrusion: it's a stolen moment.


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