Immediately after entering, you see the door of the factory open, the women crowd inside. A few seconds later you see them standing on the assembly line of the weapons factory, making grenades, loading parts for cannons and other weapons. The images of historical films make it clear: the men have gone to the front, the women are taking their place. Not only did they contribute to the war victory of 1918, but they also took their place in the near future, which would go down in Paris history as the decade of the ‘Années Folles’. The Treaty of Versailles announced a new Europe, the Spanish flu epidemic had ended, the Russian Revolution had started the migratory flows. The Prohibition period began in Puritan America. A new time dawned in which the woman did not allow herself to be sent home one, two, three.
Also read: Jeanne Oosting could paint because she had the courage to be tomboyish.
Exposure ‘Pionnières. Artistes dans le Paris des Années Folles’ at the Musée du Luxembourg trace this eruption of female creativity. Literally, in an overview on the wall just after entry: Marie Vassilieff it is Smolensk, Sonia Delaunay Odessa, Tamara de Lempicka Warsaw, Romaine Brooks New York, just to name a few. Following the route will encounter the work of dozens of women artists working in this roaring twenties He came to Paris: paintings, books, puppets, drawings, design, fashion, videos. We see photos and publications of the American Sylvia Beach opened the famous bookstore Shakespeare & Co, while her friend Adrienne Monnier ran Maison des Amis des La Livres. Together they became the cultural meeting place of artists and writers from around the world. We find photos of the sewing workshop of Polish Sarah Lipska, puppets Marie Vassilieff, bronze statues of the Israeli Chana Orloff.
Many female artists are active in more than one field, this exhibition emphasizes. They have to earn a living, drawing and design, sew and open a shop. Josephine Baker, a “nouvelle Ève ‘recently buried in the Pantheon by President Macron, is seen dancing in a video. She made a name in the music hall, linked the name of it to a variety of products, opened a restaurant cabaret, he published a magazine and campaigned for equal rights for African Americans: no entrepreneur most successful in his time . attention to the ‘garçonnes’ is also given, women cut their hair, so named by a character from the novel by Victor Marguerite, 1922. In the 20 open a gallery or an art academy founded. Female athletes the freedom to dress in a way that allows them to take better move. Painting Russian-Latvian artist Aleksandra Belcova is beautiful, The tennis gamerepresented with racket and ball: for the first time the tennis players play with short skirts.
Known and unknown artists pass by. In a video, Ukrainian native Sonia Delaunay says that one day her husband brought home some fabric samples. She turned it into a dress, she says, and no one was surprised. A little later we see singer Françoise Hardy performing her worldwide hit ‘Comment te dire adieu’ in one of Delaunay’s black and white creations, full of large circles and rectangles.
An entire room is dedicated to gender issues, paintings by LHBTQ+ artist, Tamara de Lempicka to Romaine Brooks. “Masculine? Feminine? But that’s different every time. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me,” she says in a self-portrait by French photographer Claude Cahun. female friendship, lesbian sexuality is no longer taboo. the video “Un bel atelier moderne”, the late Polish art deco painter shows that the past is the richly decorated studios of the d’Annunzio era, hers is light and elegant furniture, she herself is elegantly dressed: “You are a great artist and a beautiful woman”.
The exhibition concludes with a series of works on diversity and the African continent. Juliette Roche, we see a multi-ethnic breakfast on the grassWith three women with different skin color. The French writer and painter Lucie Cousturier, who deserves a greater exposure, the exhibition shows drawings that she made during her travels in Africa.
Variety, vitality and diversity of this exposure is overwhelming. The pioneers of the arts seized the opportunity, set off for Paris and, in the brief respite between the two world wars, shaped a decade of euphoria: frenetic and boundless.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on April 13, 2022
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of the April 13, 2022.