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Maurice Utrillo (fr. Maurice Utrillo; December 26, 1883, Paris – November 5, 1955, Dax) - French post-impressionist painter, master of city landscape.

Maurice Utrillo's father could be Auguste Renoir or Puvis de Chavannes. And maybe marked Toulouse lautrec? Or myself Edgar Degas? However, the boy could have been born from any not so well-known inhabitant of Montmartre, in which his mother, Suzanne Valadon, extremely appreciated as a talented model. Genetic analysis in those years did not do, and Susanna was distinguished by very free views on the relations of women and men in general, artists and their models - in particular. So it remains a mystery who transmitted the artistic talent to Maurice on the fatherly line.

Whose authorship is the child?

17-year-old Suzanne gave the child to raise her mother. Grandma Maurice was a simple laundress. And the child's disposition was extremely unbalanced, already in infancy, he had nervous attacks. To calm his grandson, his grandmother gave him wine mixed with milk ...

There is a funny, almost anecdotal story explaining where the name of Uthrillo is from Susanna's son Valadon. During lunch with friends, someone asked her a question about the boy's father. “Perhaps this is the work of Puvis de Chavannes, or maybe Renoir or Degas”- half-jokingly answered Susanna. Her buddy, art critic and writer Miguel Utrillo-i-Molins exclaimed that he would be happy "Put his signature on the creation of any of these masters". And yet "put": he adopted the boy and gave him his last name. It does not at all mean that Maurice had a stepfather; on the contrary, Miguel soon left for Spain and was more reminiscent of himself.

A lot, a lot of alcohol

Maurice Utrillo was 13 years old when Suzanne Valadon married the successful lawyer Paul Mussi and took her son from her grandmother. According to one of the versions, by that time, he had been fed by wine, he was already an alcoholic. According to another, it was by traveling along with the workers from the suburbs to the school in Montmartre that he became addicted to their drinks and drinks. Chances are that both facts took place. If you could not get to the alcohol, Maurice destroyed everything that came to hand, threatened suicide. In the end, his stepfather took him out of school and got a job - maybe the schedule and work will positively affect the youth? Not affected. He was expelled for drunkenness from everywhere, even the shoemaker could not tolerate Maurice as assistants for more than a month. He was 18 years old when he had the first attack of delirium tremens. Two months Maurice spent in a psychiatric clinic.

Monmigny Period

From the hospital, he went to the house of his mother and stepfather in Monmigny. Some of the doctors recommended Susanna, since she is an artist, to try and draw Maurice to drawing - simply in the hope of diverting his attention from the bottle. Not to say that everything went smoothly: Maurice was angry, tore the paper, threw pencils into the window. But I began to draw. As biographers report in such cases, this was the “stage of the artist’s becoming”. He also tried to please his mother, to whom he experienced painful affection, which was a synthesis of jealous adoration and hatred.

At first he made sketches in pencil, then switched to oil. Suzanne Valadon provided her son with a five-color palette: zinc white, two yellow shades, cinnabar and pink madren. Then Maurice worked mostly in the impasto technique. He finished the picture in 2-3 hours. In 1903 he began writing in the open air.

At first he signed his paintings "Maurice Valadon." It is not known for certain that it was not at all that cloudless relationship with his mother that darkened him, but from 1906 he refused to use his maternal surname and began to subscribe to Maurice Utrillo. Around that time, Suzanne divorced, and Maurice moved to a studio in Montmartre. His palette became darker, green and brown tones appeared in it (1, 2)

Montmartre singer

Montmartre became the main plot of Maurice Utrillo. Shortly before Utrillo settled in Montmartre, they lived in the same places Gauguin, Renoir, van Gogh. However, their searches and experiments of Maurice did not touch. The only ones who can be called more or less authority for him - Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley.
Friends among artists? Amedeo Modigliani was for him primarily a drinking companion. Utrillo even ran away from the hospital in order to roam all night with Modigliani. “You are a great artist!"- said Modigliani somehow. Utrillo decidedly put his comrade above himself - if only because he was able to drink more wine.

Paris Maurice Utrillo is not “brilliance and misery”, not amusement and not ease. He is about solitude and a narrow street stretching to the horizon, in those years still completely deserted. Recall that the world was not friendly to him. Since childhood, he looked like a renegade, caused laughter, he was rotting, teased, beaten. The boys hooted after him and shouted: “An underdog goes!” quite often. Later, these works, scribbled at the tables of institutions, called "Utrillo of a bistro."

White period in the work of Maurice Utrillo

In 1909, Maurice Utrillo exhibited his work at the Salon and was a success. Soon followed the personal exhibition, adopted again with a bang. Since that time, he left work in the open air and moved to the workshop. Nature was replaced by postcards; he transferred the composition to canvas with a compass and ruler; he was repeatedly criticized for this reason by being dry and repetitive. The “white period” refers to works written in 1910-1914. The artist's palette is significantly lightened, and, as it is easy to guess, he was especially addicted to white color (1, 2).

Utrillo's coloristic minimalism sometimes balanced the richness of the texture: he added sand, glue to the oil, used lime, made the smear more tangible, and applied paint to the canvas with a knife, rubbed it with his fingers, attached paper pieces to the canvas. It seems that he wanted to condense, strengthen, make his images as clear and tangible as possible.

Color period

It should clarify the division of creativity Maurice Utrillo for periods. This is primarily about changing the palette. His manner as such changed little throughout his life. This is understandable: he was not interested in the searches of contemporary artists for him, and he also did not care for his predecessors. Neither the museums nor the art galleries Utrillo did not go. Alfred Barr (the first director of MoMA) recalled that his attempt to talk with Morris Utrillo about painting was a failure: “When I told him the names of great artists of the past, he looked at me as if he had heard of them for the first time.”.

In the color period, from 1915 to 1930s, Utrillo often wrote churches, cathedrals and entertainment venues - cabarets, cafes. Even people began to appear on his canvases - as a rule, written schematically, most often turned his back to the audience (1, 2, 3). Due to the rather simple structure of Utrillo's paintings, a lot was faked even during his lifetime. By the way, it is not a fact that he could even identify forgeries himself, because he did not keep records of his paintings and was not often sober in the process of creation.

In 1916, another attack of delirium tremens led Maurice Utrillo to a clinic for the mentally ill. He was treated, discharged, he continued to drink, again fell into the hospital. All this was accompanied by nervous breakdowns, suicide attempts and endless drunkenness. After another riot, he was arrested by the police. Suzanne Valadon, his beloved and hated mother, understood that it was impossible to leave Maurice in Paris.

Surprisingly, by that time his financial affairs were developing very well, the paintings were bought at fairly high prices. Therefore, Suzanne Valadon purchased the villa near Lyon for the proceeds from the sale of her son's work and took Maurice there. Perhaps in this way she was late in fulfilling the maternal duty to the early child of an unknown “authorship”? At least, the fate of Utrillo due to the intervention of Suzanne was different than that of his fellow drinking companion-genius Amadeo Modigliani, whom no one could keep from self-destruction.

Late Utrillo and late marriage

Late period Utrillo biographers call the time from the 1930s until the artist’s death. At the age of 47, Maurice Utrillo married the widow of a Belgian banker Lucy Povel, who collected his work. Some biographers believe that Suzanna Valadon insisted on marrying her son, fearing that Maurice would be completely unfit for life without her. However, there is another version: all his life a terribly jealous mother to numerous suitor Maurice married her out of spite. Anyway, Suzanne died the next year, and Utrillo was already under the supervision of his wife. Lucy took matters into her own hands, fully supporting the idea of Suzanne that there is no place for Maurice in Paris, she will finally drink. "Young" settled in the suburbs.

Whether funny, or sad fact from the family life of Utrillo and the history of the paintings. In 1935, gallery owner Paul Pidres received the sole right to sell any works written by Utrillo. In return, he paid his family a fixed (very substantial) amount for the weekly picture presented to him. Maurice Utrillo on this occasion did not burn with the heat of inspiration, but on the contrary, he could not bear Peedres. He came almost all of Sunday, Maurice cursed: "Again he! How he bothered me! ”, And Pedres drove the artist right at the easel: “Write! Time runs. Walls! Now shutters! Signature!". Utrillo with a pained look on his face worked, hoping to quickly put the gallerist out the door. And he was packing another raw canvas in the trunk, giving Lucy the money and leaving until next Sunday.

Solo exhibitions of Maurice Utrillo were held with great success in the USA, England, Germany and Switzerland. Color Utrillo late bloomed in full force (1, 2). And, perhaps, in his works diminished the melancholy and loneliness that emanated from the streets and temples in the early paintings. In 1928, Maurice Utrillo was awarded the highest awards of France - the Order of the Legion of Honor. Even during the life of the artist, his work was estimated at millions of dollars: one of the paintings of the “white period” in 1950 was auctioned off for 8 million francs. And the next year, the public was sobbing over the film The Tragic Life of Maurice Utrillo. By the way, about the cinema. Few know that in the film “When would Paris tell us”, which was released after his death, Maurice Utrillo played a cameo cameo role, that is, himself. But all this fuss did not touch him at all. He went to his workshop, ran a toy train on the floor, donated by his mother long ago, and fenced off from the world in which he still felt like a stranger.

Author: Alena Grosheva
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