Valadon was born in 1865 in France. She began her working life differently than any other artist I’ve ever written about on this blog—when she was 15 she joined the circus! Unfortunately, though lucky for the art world, she fell from the trapeze a year later and could no longer perform in the circus.
Valadon was interested in art so she began to make friends with artists. She became a model for several of the artists she met and watched the painters work. This is how she began her training as an artist. The artists believed in her talent and helped her when they could. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec gave Valadon painting lessons. Edgar Degas, whose paintings and sculptures of ballerinas you may remember, bought some of her paintings so she could continue to create art.
Valadon held her first exhibition in 1915. Art critics liked her work and she sold many pieces. The upper class, though, was shocked by many of her paintings which showed nude women.
Valadon was an interesting woman. She spent time in the taverns with the male artists with whom she fit in well. This was not common among women in the late 1800s. She also kept a goat in her studio to eat the drawings she didn't like.
Suzanne Valadon painted in bright colors outlined in thick black. Look at the colors and lines in the landscape shown below.Valadon died in 1938.
Suzanne Valadon’s son, Maurice Utrillo, also became a painter. I’ll post about him within the next few days as well.
I encourage you to look for more of Suzanne Valadon's paintings. Be sure to ask your parent's permission first.