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From a childhood marked by poverty and neglect to a career as a popular artist’s model, French artist Suzanne Valadon (born Marie-Clementine Valadon, 1865–1938) defied the odds to become a successful painter, confounding societal expectations to assert her independence. The first self-taught woman to exhibit at the Salon de la Nationale des Beaux-Arts, she challenged behavioral codes with her art and lifestyle, breaking new ground with her unapologetic portraits and nudes.

This exhibition considers Valadon’s rich contribution to the early 20th-century art world, the artist’s agency in her career, and her business dealings and marketing strategies. Confrontational and witty, her works tackle themes that remain provocative today: female desire, the conflicts of marriage and motherhood, and a woman’s experience of her own physicality.

Image: Suzanne Valadon. Nude Sitting on a Sofa (detail), 1916. The Weisman & Michel Collection

The Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA


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