from The New Book of Knowledge®
The French artist Maurice Utrillo grew up among artists, surrounded by art. He was born in Paris on December 25, 1883. His mother, Suzanne Valadon, was a painter and artist's model. His adoptive father was the Spanish writer and artist Miguel Utrillo.
Maurice liked to draw, but he did not take his art seriously. When he was still very young, he spent more time in cafés than working in his mother's studio. At 18 he was hospitalized for alcoholism. His mother taught Maurice to paint in order to divert him from drinking. He became very skillful, but he was troubled and nonproductive and often returned to heavy drinking and to the hospital.
Utrillo's best work was done between 1908 and 1914, during what has been called his white period. His paintings in this period were done mostly in whites, grays, and browns, and his canvases had a somewhat rough texture. As subjects he chose the streets and houses of Paris. The confident style of his paintings gives no hint of his own turbulent emotions.
Utrillo's paintings became very popular and brought good prices. With success he became nonproductive again. Instead of seeking new subjects, he began to copy scenes from picture postcards and to repaint his own earlier works. The quality of his work declined.
In 1935, Utrillo married Lucie Valore. It was a good marriage, and his life became more peaceful. He died on November 5, 1955, and was buried in Paris.
Reviewed by Philip Linhares
Director, Mills College Art Gallery