Guest Blogger - Daniel Stedman on Kiki de Montparnasse
Hey everyone! I have truly enjoyed sharing my passions with you. This blog has been about what inspires me and I hope I inspire you. All the feedback I have received has honestly been a blessing and I look forward to continuing my exciting journey with you. To start the next chapter of my blog, I have decided to periodically invite the people who inspire me to be guest bloggers. These friends are free to write about anything that inspires them; let's keep the chain going!
Kiki de Montparnasse: Singer, Actress, Painter, Queen of Montparnasse:
Kiki de Montparnasse was a fixture without equal in 1920's Montparnasse. She was the unifying muse for a generation of Parisian Dadaists and Surrealists. Her unique face and spirit made her an inspiration for artists as varied as Foujita, Léger, Picabia, Cocteau, Calder, Per Krohg, Kisling, and her famous lover for most of the 20's Man Ray. She is famously seen in Man Ray's surrealist images Le violon d'Ingres and Noire et blanche. She also starred in the iconic films "Ballet Mechanique" by Fernand Leger and "Emak Bakia" by Man Ray. Her 1929 memoirs set Paris in a turmoil, and were banned in America on the grounds of obscenity. They were also praised by Hemingway, who wrote in the introduction "Kiki dominated the era of Montparnasse more than Queen Victoria ever dominated the Victorian era." By the end of the decade Kiki had her own cabaret called Chez Kiki, where she would climb on the tables, singing, and lifting her skirt, often wearing nothing underneath. Gossip followed Kiki everywhere, including the legend that she had no pubic hair, or that she could only grow it when in love, or that she shaved it off and chalked it on again when posing for artists. She famously said "All I need is an onion, a bit of bread, and a bottle of red. And I will always find somebody to offer me that." Eventually, Kiki lost Man Ray, along with her famously bawdy spirit, and slipped into an addiction for alcohol and cocaine. At the age of 51 she collapsed and died, due to complications of alcoholism and drug dependence. At the Cimetière du Montparnasse, her tomb reads "Kiki, 1901-1953, singer, actress, painter, Queen of Montparnasse."
When she took off her coat, she was absolutely naked, a small handkerchief, in lively colors, pinned to the inside of her coat gave the illusion of the latest dress. She took my place in front of the easel, told me not to move, and calmly began to draw my portrait. When the work was finished she had sucked and bitten all my pencils and lost my small easer, and delighted, danced, sung and yelled, and walked all over a box of camembert. She demanded money from me for posing and left triumphantly, carrying her drawing with her. Three minutes later at the Cafe du Dome a rich American Collector bought this drawing for an outrageous price. -Foujita
Daniel Stedman is the owner of The L Magazine in New York and an award-winning film director. He is currently in development for a film about Kiki de Montparnasse, based on the books Kiki's Paris and Kiki's Memoirs by Billy Kluver and Julie Martin.