Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) is the title of a famous painting from the year 1907 by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). This painting has been described as revolutionary and controversial, as one of the most important canvases of the twentieth century and as a pivotal work in the development of modern art.

According to the painting’s owner, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon “marks a radical break from traditional composition and perspective in painting. It depicts five naked women with figures composed of flat, splintered planes and faces inspired by Iberian sculpture and African masks.”

(To see the painting, click on any of the above links.)

Contrary to popular belief, Picasso’s painting has nothing to do with the French city of Avignon. It turns out that the word ‘Avignon’ in the painting’s title refers to a street in Barcelona which was famous for its brothel.

Nonetheless, there is a boutique in Avignon called Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. It sells clothing, accessories and knick-knacks to — you guessed it — the Young Ladies of Avignon. 

The shop window

The text on the shop window promises trucs (knick-knacks), objets (objects), conseils (advice) and cadeaux (gifts). The trucs come with or without straps and include lace thongs (because dentelle rhymes with bretelle). The objects come in three kinds; frivolous, useful and indispensable. The advice is both for decorating and for your life. The gifts are for “your husband Charly and your mother Emilie unless they are for your lover Armand.”

The shop gets good reviews in the local websites, but I can’t give you a personal opinion because I am neither young nor a lady nor from Avignon, so I do not qualify as a member of their target group. 

The building

The shop is in an older building at the corner of Rue Trois Faucons (Street of the Three Falcons) and Rue Laboureur. Typically for southern France, it has loose electrical cables hanging around the façade at odd angles.

(Compare my post on The Municipal Opera House in Marseille. As I wrote there, it could be that dangling cables are perfectly normal and that I’ve just been living in Germany too long, where cables are usually out of sight or at least routed inconspicuously through some sort of cable shafts.) 

Bilingual street sign

Even the street sign has a loose electric wire dangling in front of it. The bottom line gives the street name in Provençal. 

My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2018.

See more posts on Avignon, France.

6 thoughts on “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”

  1. I’ve been 3x in Avignon. I bet you are aware of the famous music festival in June. That was so amazing. Very diverse. I loved it.

    1. Thanks for your visit and comment. Yes, I am aware of the festival, but I have never attended because I always have to teach in June. Glad you liked it!

    1. You mean Camili Books and Tea, I suppose. I’ve never spent much time in Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, but it seems to me that Camili Books and Tea does more in the way of community outreach activities like readings, bilingual knitting evenings, language classes, conversation clubs, etc. Also she orders books for students from the nearby university. I don’t think tourists or visiting writers are a big part of her clientele.

      1. It’s been awhile since we were at Shakespeares’ but it was a treasure trove of little rooms with books piled to the ceiling. They covered many different languages and subjects.

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