Archive: Valentine Schlegel

Sarah Moroz charts the story of a single-minded woman whose contribution to French design is only now being appreciated.

“Parisian society had little time for women using media not sanctioned as high art.”

In 2017, the artist Valentine Schlegel was the subject of a long-overdue retrospective. This Woman Could Sleep in Water, which took place at CAC Brétigny in Paris, reintroduced one of France’s most spirited and multifaceted artists to the world. The exhibition took its name from a comment made by one of Schlegel’s fishermen friends, who was in awe of the sea-loving artist’s ability to nap just about anywhere.

Schlegel was born in 1925 in Sète, a port city in southeastern France. Growing up in a family of artisans informed her relationship to tools and her love of the handmade. After studying drawing at the fine arts school in Montpellier, she worked for an arts festival in Avignon where she alternated between roles as a costume designer, props specialist, set painter and stage ...


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