|Ruelle des Gobelins à Paris, 1921|
Normally I just celebrate birthdays but this guy is so well known that I could not pass up this chance to mention him. I bet that a lot of us had posters of his art in our rooms or in our dorms. I remember when he was extremely popular although I also like the work of his mother, Suzanne Valadon. Utrillo died on this day in 1955 - more into the 20th century that I realized. Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris (December 26, 1883), Utrillo was one of the few famous painters of Montmartre who was born there.
Born illegitimate, his mother never admitted who the real father ways - it's possible that she didn't know. She was only 18 when he was born and left him to the care of her mother, Maurice's grandmother. He became an alcoholic very early in life, a disease which plagued him throughout his long life. Maurice also never studied art, either formally or informally which give his paintings their refreshing directness and simplicity, so in tune with 20th century artistic likes.
Around the turn of the 20th century, Suzanne encouraged him to paint—perhaps as a kind of therapy to counter his own demons and alcohol, which the boy succumbed to as an adolescent. Or maybe it was a way to make some money as they were desperately poor. Prior to that, Maurice had not shown any interest at all in painting. However, soon after he would become one of the most active painters in Montmartre, and in 1924 he exhibited alongside his mother for the first time. Yet his alcoholism was such a problem that his lwife, Lucie, had to lock the alcohol away in a cupboard in order to almost force Utrillo to return to painting. Nevertheless, he lived into his 70's and became extremely popular, if not wealthy.