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Portraits of the garçonne as artist: gender and creativity in French fiction of the années folles

Shingler, Katherine

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Katherine Shingler


This article examines a series of popular and middlebrow works of fiction from the 1920s which represent the garçonne (the flapper, or androgynous, emancipated young woman) as artist. Challenging the popular view of the années folles as a period of relatively relaxed social conventions and gender norms, it shows that far from embracing female creativity, the authors of the period took pains to link it to moral and aesthetic deviance. Having considered what the representation of female creativity in novels by Berthe Bernage, Victor Margueritte and Marcel Prévost can tell us about gender in the 1920s, I go on to examine novels by the art critics André Warnod and François Fosca, who use the figure of the garçonne as artist to air art-critical positions about the modernist art produced in Montparnasse, especially by members of the École de Paris. Whereas Warnod represents his female artist as a victim of a modernism linked with the foreign and the ‘primitive’, in Fosca’s novel the female painter is a more threatening figure: an agent of a modernism whose attacks on the female body (in the form of the conventional academic nude) are in turn echoed in a broader ‘troubling’ of gendered and aesthetic categories.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 31, 2018
Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2018
Publication Date Jul 20, 2018
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 21, 2020
Journal Modern and Contemporary France
Print ISSN 0963-9489
Electronic ISSN 1469-9869
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 4
Pages 395-411
Keywords garçonne, flapper, women artists, modernist art, primitive, art novel, art criticism
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Modern and Contemporary France on 20 July 2018 available online:


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