Jacques Villon

Jacques Villon's Influences

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

In his early work Villon proved himself to be a master of form, a genius of La Belle Epoque. His Ladies sitting in parlors wearing stunning billowing dresses and large hats, clearly the ladies of society and wealth with intricate woven tapestries on the floor and walls were representational of the high lifestyle that Villon’s subjects enjoyed. They traveled in carriages, lingered in Salons, sat painting at easels, relaxed in gardens watching children play; these women depicted the life of leisure as did the men at backgammon tables or fashionably dressed at restaurants or cabarets.

Jacques Villon met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in the late 1890’s in Paris. Although their ages were different, they both shared a passion for the Paris nightlife. Lautrec’s passion
was the night life in Montmartre where he frequented the cabarets, in particular, The Moulin Rouge. He spent his time drawing the dancers and singers such as Yvette Guilbert, La Goulue, Valentin le Desosse, Aristide Bruant, May Belfort, May Milton and Jane Avril. He did numerous lithographs and posters depicting these entertainers, the most famous being the Moulin Rouge poster executed in 1891.

Lautrec often visited the fashionable brothels of Paris and was a welcome visitor staying nights on end drinking hoping to obliterate the pain and anguish that he suffered in his life as the deformed artist, crippled at a young age after having been thrown from a horse. He used the brothel setting for a series of works, private moments between the prostitutes and the patrons, the women kissing each other, sleeping together or enjoying the closeness of each others’ bodies. In the late 1890’s his health deteriorates and in 1899 his mental and physical health declines and he enters a clinic in Neuilly for detoxification.
This does not last long and he begins to drink compulsively again and shortly thereafter he suffers a stroke that leaves him partially paralyzed. In 1901 he is moved to his mother’s estate at Malrome where he dies on August 25.

Pablo Picasso's Influence on Jacques Villon

In 1911 Villon came under the influence of Picasso and other cubists and became a leading
exponent of the style, exhibiting in New York at The Armory Show in 1913.
This show was a great success for Villon; all of the paintings were sold. This
success, coupled with his first one man show at the Societe Anonyme, contributed
to and confirmed the fame that Villon had achieved in America. By this time he was more well known in America than in Europe.

Villon's style changed to black and white rather than luscious color and instead of flowing La Belle Epoque scenes his work was linear and abstract. He executed numerous landscapes however much of his work continued to concentrate on figures. If one looks at his work "Portrait D'Acteur" (Ginestet et Poullon E283) 1913, one can easily see the influence of Picasso and fellow cubists.

After WW11 he was faced with financial difficulties and he created a series of reproductions of contemporary paintings for the gallery Bernheim Jeune. They were a series which included Picasso's "Les Saltimbanques", Derain's "Buste de Femme", Braque's "Nature Morte", Matisse's "Odalisque sur la Terrasse", Renoir's "Nu", Bonnard's "La Femme au Chien", Marie Laurencin's "La Femme au Hamac", Manet's "Olympia", Modigliani's "L'Italiene", Van Gogh's "Le Paysan", Leger's "Femme a la Cruche" and Renoir's "La Loge."

Jacques Villon was an artist whose work spanned La Belle Epoque to Cubism and in each style received recognition and success. His works are on exhibition at numerous museums throughout the world.

Jules Cheret's Influence on Jacques Villon

Jules Cheret was born in 1836 almost 40 years before Jacques Villon. Although there was a significant difference in age, these two artists' works were greatly influenced and recognized for their mastery of color. Jules Cheret was considered the master of color lithography when in 1869 he introduced a new system of color printing which used different stones to introduce various separated, balanced individual colors in printing. In the early 1880's Cheret achieved what no other artist had. Cheret often worked with pastel and oil and executed hundreds of works depicting dancers and entertainers of La Belle Epoque. Cheret's works are a symphony of color; a fluidity and harmony of color that few other artists achieved. He was a master technician as well and he was able to bring his dancers to life. Like Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret spent his nights at the cabarets in Montmartre drawing the characters as they whirled across the dance floor. Cheret's work became well recognized and he won the honor of becoming a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1890. Cheret and Villon were creating their colorful lithographs and original drawings for a period of time that overlapped, a time in which Villon was able to capture and create from having the benefit of the prolific works created by Jules Cheret. Cheret died in 1932 and Villon's work continued on until his death in 1963.

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