Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar.

I just finished my "treasure box" to be donated to the Art Gallery at UNH (more about this later!).

My "treasure box", 'Sometimes A Cigar, Is Just A Cigar', borrows its title from the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (though there is no evidence that he actually uttered these words) meaning that sometimes a cigar is what it is and not a phallic symbol . The painting itself, oil on paper within a cigar box, references a reclinging female figure by Suzanne Valadon, her bold representations of female sexuality challenged the traditional male constructions of femininity.

"Born in France, the daughter of an unmarried laundress, Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) became a circus acrobat at the age of fifteen, but a year later, a fall from a trapeze ended that career. In Paris she pursued her interest in art, first working as an artist's model before becoming a noted painter. As confirmed in portraits, she was a strikingly beautiful woman and she worked as a model for artists while she was observing and learning their techniques. She modeled for artists such as Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pierre-C├ęcile Puvis de Chavannes, and is known to have had an affair with the latter two." (Wikipedia: Suzanne Valadon)

Valadon painted still life, portraits, floral art, and landscapes that are noted for their strong composition and vibrant colors. She was, however, best known for her candid female nudes. She defied artistic convention by painting nude women with natural, even homely bodies, who she presented matter-of-factly, instead of as sex objects.

Suzanne Valadon is one of my "sheroes", I often look to her life and art for inspiration. I love the combination of strength and vulnerability in her female figures, she reminds me that there is beauty in imperfection!