26.12.1883 (Paris, France) - 05.11.1955 (Dax, France)
Utrillo was born Maurice Valadon in 1883 in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, France. He is one of the few famous painters of Montmartre who was actually born there. His mother was a clothing-designer and model for painters, who posed for Morisot, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. But, under the name of Suzanne Valadon, she herself also painted.
Under his mother’s tutelage Utrillo began to paint in 1902, at first in the streets of Montmartre. He depicted streets, corner buildings, rows of buildings, fountains and avenues captured during different seasons of the year in a style influenced by the lyrical realism of Camille Pissarro and Albert Sisley. However, by deploying a subtle palette - mainly yellow, turquoise, maroon and zinc white - he suffused the scenes with a sense of atmosphere.
Known as his ’White Period’ (période blanche), the years between 1909 and 1914 represent the summit of Utrillo’s creativity. During this period he reduced his palette to whites and greys. He also mixed his paints with sand, plaster and lime to render the physical substance of his subject matter, such as walls.
A powerful natural talent, Utrillo made an enormous contribution to incorporating structure and texture in his work as opposed to merely informing Impressionism. Starting where Impressionism left off, Utrillo became the best-known portrayer of Paris, especially Montmartre. His poetic interpretations of the streets and squares contributed substantially to popularizing a romantic image of that quarter.
P. Pétridès, L'oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo, Paris 1974;
J. van Adrichem, De ontvangst van de moderne kunst in Nederland 1910-2000. Picasso als pars pro toto, Amsterdam 2001, p. 95.
2010: retrospective exhibition, Oglethorpe University Brookhaven, Atlanta;
2010: retrospective exhibition, Montmartre, Parijs
Work by Maurice Utrillo is represented in the collections of several important international museums, among others the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Royal Collection and the Tate Gallery in London and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
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