Alice Prin

Better known as Kiki de Montparnasse (or the Queen of Montparnasse) but born as Alice Ernestine Prin (1901 – 1953). She was a French artist’s model, literary muse, nightclub singer, actress, memoirist, and painter. She flourished in, and helped define, the liberated culture of Paris in the 1920s.

She became one of the most famous models of the 20th-century and in the history of avant-garde art. By the age of fourteen, Prin’s “large and splendid body” had garnered the artistic and sexual attention of various Parisian denizens, and she began surreptitiously posing nude for sculptors. Her decision to become a nude model created discord with her mother.One day, her mother unexpectedly intruded into an artist’s studio in a rage, denounced Prin as a shameless prostitute, and disowned her forever.

Now without money or a roof over her head, the teenage Kiki determined to make her living exclusively by posing for artists. As a beautiful dark-haired French girl, she soon found herself in popular demand. At the time, she had scant pubic hair and, when posing, she occasionally would draw on fake hair with a piece of charcoal. As her fame grew, she became a local celebrity who symbolized the Montparnasse quarter’s nonconformity and its rejection of the social norms of the petite bourgeoisie.

Without knowing it I already have shared some photos of her, in the collection of Julian Mandel.

Adopting a single name, “Kiki”, she became a fixture in the Montparnasse social scene and a popular artist’s model, posing for dozens of artists. Her companion for most of the 1920s was Man Ray, who made hundreds of portraits of her. She can be considered his muse at this time, she is the subject of some of his best-known images, including the notable surrealist image Le violon d’Ingres and Noire et blanche. Besides posing she also appeared in some movies:  Walking on Air (1946), Le lion des Mogols (1924) and Le capitaine jaune (1930).

She died on April 29, 1953 in Sanary-sur-Mer, Var, France.

Fine Nude

By Julian Mandel

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