Toulouse-Lautrec at MOMA

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). Jane Avril. 1899. Lithograph, sheet: 22 1/16 x 15″

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). Jane Avril. 1899. Lithograph, sheet: 22 1/16 x 15″

If you went to MoMA in the past few months, it was probably to see the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibit which recently closed. But there’s reason to return soon, and that’s to see “The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec:Prints and Posters.” The exhibition is drawn almost exclusively from MoMA’s posters, lithographs, printed ephemera, and illustrated books by Lautrec.  It features over 100 examples of the best-known works created during the peak of his career.

 The exhibition is organized around five subjects that create a portrait of Lautrec’s Paris. One section is devoted to café-concerts and dance halls, including  the Moulin Rouge. Another group focuses on the actresses, singers, dancers, and performers who “sparked the artist’s imagination and served as his muses,” according to the exhibition notes.  There’s also a series of prints and posters focusing on prostitutes in their non-working hours. A fourth section is centered on Lautrec’s role in the Parisian artistic community. A final grouping shows Lautrec’s depictions of popular Parisian activities like horse racing at Longchamp and promenading on the Bois de Boulogne.

I was quite familiar with Lautrec’s dance hall posters but found that the simple lines of some of the lesser known works, really drew me in. The exhibit is on view through March 22nd.


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