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Maurice Utrillo Started Painting as a Form of Art Therapy


\”On a particularly boring day, I had a clever but unfortunate inspiration. I seized a piece of cardboard, some tubes of tint and petroleum base – since I lacked real oil – and, confronting a typical Montmartre street corner, I suddenly found myself a practitioner of this difficult and thankless art of painting. \”

Maurice Utrillo


French painter Maurice Utrillo was well known for his paintings of the homes and streets of Paris\’s Montmartre neighbourhood. Utrillo created thousands of pieces using oil paint media. He is famous for depicting urban landscapes of Montmartre, particularly during his \”white era\” (1909–1914), when he painted with plaster and white zinc to reflect the texture of the area\’s deteriorating structures and fractured walls. Maurice Utrillo is a postimpressionist painter who struggled with alcoholism and despair for the majority of his life. Without any formal instruction other than what his mother had taught him, he painted and sketched the Montmartre scenery that he was surrounded by. He displayed bizarre landscapes that amazed the connoisseur and charmed the average person. Many painters were motivated by these images to reevaluate their surroundings and once more recreate reality as opposed to using abstraction.


Maurice Utrillo was born in Montmartre, Paris, France on December 26, 1883. He was the son of Marie-Clémentine Valadon, also known as Suzanne Valadon. She had previously performed as an acrobat in a circus before becoming a model for illustrious artists Renoir, Zandomeneghi, Toulouse Lautrec, and Puvis de Chavannes. His mother started painting later as well. She never disclosed the identity of her child\’s father. Unknown as to whether he was the child\’s father, Spanish artist Miguel Utrillo acknowledged paternity in 1891 by signing a legal document. Utrillo was so out of control by the time he was eighteen that he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. His mother, Suzanne Valadon, encouraged him to paint at this time as a type of occupational therapy for his \”mental health.\” She had an innate understanding that through his art, he might use painting to re-channel his suffering and achieve emotional equilibrium. Utrillo unearthed a passion and skill for painting. He did have a way to express himself emotionally through paining.


Utrillo produced a body of work from 1904 to 1914 that has come to be referred to as the \”White Period\” in the art world. Parisian cityscapes were the subject of these paintings. Plaster and aged white were used to depict the classic Parisian streets in a clear and unambiguous way. All of the illustrations depicted the flaws of structures accurately, including their cracks and abandoned, run-down houses. The French government decided to honour him with the Legion d\’honneur because of the fame of his paintings at the time. However, Maurice Utrillo\’s success was insufficient to stave off his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness. Even though he was his own worst critic, he nonetheless produced thousands of oil paintings that may be seen all around the world.


Maurice Utrillo not only refined the use of white, but he eventually began incorporating a lot of colour into his oil paintings. Moulin de la Galette and Place des Abbesses in the Snow are two of his well-known pieces. But many of the postcards in use today feature one of his most well-known works. When Montemarte Street Corner was painted in 1936, it quickly gained popularity because it captured the vivacity of the neighbourhood. Utrillo was able to draw inspiration from his personal melancholy and create a sizable collection of work. When visiting his hometown of Montemarte, people continue to look for his oil paintings because they are still in high demand. Maurice Utrillo passed away at his house in 1955, but his artwork lives on in the form of charming postcards of Parisian scenery.

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Utrillo
  2. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/utrillo-maurice/
  3. https://www.itravelwithart.com/maurice-utrillo-art-depression-alcohol/

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