What would the great and the good of art history have been like if they were able to use social media? Artist Laurence de Valmy thinks she might know! Inspired by the personal stories of artists, she revisits the history of art through fictional anachronistic Instagram posts of the past to ask what if Instagram had always existed, creating content as if it were made by figures like Lee Krasner, Georgia O’Keeffe and Gustav Klimt. Acknowledging how artists of today are inspired by the past, she brings historical figures into contemporary dialogue through the production of these Instagram-inspired artworks. We just had to speak to Laurence about history and social media.
When did you first know you wanted to pursue a career in the art world?
It’s been a long standing dream. When I finished high school, I did hesitate between going to the Beaux Arts in Paris and a more “secure” path. I got admitted to a very good business university and reason prevailed. Then I had a career in the corporate world and kept working on my art in parallel. I took a year off in 2003 to do art only and in 2015, following my move from France to the USA, I decided to dedicate myself to my artistic path.
Can you tell us about what inspired you to create Instagram posts as though they were made by major artists from art history?
It’s the merging of a few ideas. I was working in a photorealist style and therefore I was often told that my paintings looked like photos. At the same time, I was observing with interest how artists were using social media and Instagram in particular and thought it could be fun to create paintings looking like photos on Instagram.
Since I am a fan of art history and in particular of art stories, I got this idea to create these Posts of the past combining an appropriated artwork with dialogs to share the stories behind the art.
If you had to pick one artist from the past to be on Instagram, who would it be?
I would say Warhol. He would have loved it. He was obsessed with the idea of capturing moments of his life, between his polaroids, his diary and his time capsules. He was documenting his life through these different mediums, just like many people use social media.
What are your favourite artworks from art history?
It’s hard to pick only a few but I have a longtime fondness for Edouard Manet and David Hockney for their artworks and their personalities. A few years ago, I discovered Hilma af Klint and love her work and story since I also believe in a spiritual life.
You’re a blogger too, tell us about the birth of The Curious Frenchy?
I saw a call for writers for a new magazine and submitted an article. The magazine did not launch and I decided to create my own blog! I was meeting many inspiring people and I felt like sharing their story. It’s been a great way to really get to know them. Now I also write for French Quarter Magazine, a francophile cultural magazine and Femmes d’Art, a French platform for women in the arts.
What did you get up to in lockdown?
At first like everyone, I was under shock. Early March I was at the Armory show in NYC and everyone behaved as usual and 8 days later, the world stopped. I am lucky to have a home studio so I could technically go on with my work but with the cancellation of fairs and exhibitions, I felt without a goal… What kept me going at first was that I had a show scheduled in Korea at the CICA Museum and I had to finish the paintings! Then galleries quickly adapted and turned to online exhibitions and remote events. When it was possible again, Azart Gallery organized a show in Chelsea, so between in person and online, the year was fairly busy. Oh and I learnt how to make bread 😉
What tips would you give to young women wanting to pursue a career in the art world?
I would say, whatever your gender, building your community is key as with any independent profession. There are many paths in the art world and it seems important to me to learn from the experiences of others, so being curious and reaching out is vital.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
The coming weeks are quite busy with several online group shows that I’m very excited about.
I believe online exhibitions are here to stay even when we can interact again. For example, the gallery Range of Arts based in Honfleur (France) which represents my work, currently presents both a physical show and a 3D viewing room.
My work is also on view in REDis (until March 30) curated by Sergio Gomez and Prelude organized by ArtCan.org. In March it will be part of different events with women artists, one curated by Singulart and one by Kahn Gallery. Gender equality and the awareness about women artists is a cause close to my heart, and that’s how I got to collaborate with Art Girl Rising and Kahn Gallery in 2020. By the way, you can grab a tee shirt to support women artists on their websites 🙂
On top of these exhibitions, I am working on a new body of work titled #HashtagsareART and on a project of a Public art installation and I hope it can be implemented in 2021.
My hope for 2021 is we can overcome this situation and be able to socialize again safely! Till then, stay healthy 🙂