Cafe and Cabaret: Toulouse-Lautrec's Paris
November 21, 2009 - August 8, 2010
The French aristocrat Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), one of the most innovative artists of the late nineteenth century, is known for his bold and subtle images of performers in the centers of Parisian entertainment in the 1880s and 1890s: the café-concerts and cabaret nightclubs in the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre. Despite his short life, Toulouse-Lautrec was enormously productive and succeeded in developing a style uniquely suited to the celebrity culture of this raffish district. He combined a wicked, caricatural eye for the signature features and body language of his subjects (who included his friends the singers and dancers May Milton, Jane Avril, and La Goulue) with the radical use of broad flat colors, strong silhouettes, and unusual points of view. He drew new connections between art and daily life, becoming a central figure in the decadent society he portrayed, inserting himself into his images of nightclubs, and designing advertising posters for the showman Aristide Bruant. Lautrec was central to the French revolution in color lithography in the 1890s, and he transformed the art of the poster, an international fad of the era. This exhibition features posters, prints, and paintings of café, cabaret, and other urban amusements by Toulouse-Lautrec and his contemporaries, including Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923).