The Queen of Montmartre
March 30, 2007 2:19 PM Subscribe
Kiki de Montparnasse aka Alice Ernestine Prin was a French country girl down on her luck in early 20th century Paris. She would however become a great muse of the avant-garde art scene of the Années Folles, posing for and befriending the likes of Chaim Soutine, Moise Kisling, Amedeo Modigliani, Utrillo, Foujita, Calder, Per Krogh, Pascin, and, most famously, Man Ray, with whom he entertained a steady (if not particularly monogamous) relationship before Lee Miller. During their tumultuous eight-year romance, Kiki was the model for several of his most famous works (with some Surrealist art films thrown in for good measure). She also competed with Jean Cocteau for the affections of sailors in Southern France, was a good friend of Tristan Tzara and received letters of support of Aragon and Desnos when she was jailed for public disorder. A life of excess that ultimately led to her early death in destitution in 1953 also provided stuff for several biographies (the latest one, appropriately enough, a graphic novel), as well as a Hemingway-prefaced autobiography which was banned for obscenity in the US until the '70s, and the odd art exhibition...
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