Dead Blogging ‘Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec’ at Currier Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled up to the Granite State over the weekend to catch The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters from the Museum of Modern Art (through January 7) at the Currier Museum of Art and say, it was swell.

 

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s instantly recognizable posters are fixtures on the walls of millions of homes worldwide. Although the original works of art are more than 100 years old, their continued prevalence is a reminder of the influence he continues to have on art, and especially graphic design. Lautrec’s often colorful lithographs reveal the enduring beauty of Paris. They also feature the city’s more shadowy figures, whose lives the artist celebrated through his art. Drawn from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Currier’s exclusive New England presentation will present more than 100 posters, prints and illustrated books.

Other Lautrec works you’ll see in the exhibit:

As well as these:

 

Lautrec spent roughly equal time in the nightclubs and brothels of 1890s Paris, but – as the exhibit tells us – he had dinner with his mother almost every night.

There were, however, some notable exceptions – among them this letter from Lautrec to his Mom that the Missus happens to have hanging on her wall.

Loose translation:

My dear Mother, 

Did you break both your arms or did you forget your ironclad rule: a short note, please, to keep me informed. Everything is fine here and I am working hard.

All best,

Yours

H

Interesting, as the Missus notes, considering that Lautrec broke both his legs as a young man and grew to be only 4′ 11″ tall.

Regardless, Lautrec turned out to be a giant of the lithographic arts, which was no mean feat. Lithography, as Barbie might say, is hard. A quick tutorial, compliments of – yes – MoMA.

 

 

What Lautrec did with lithography was truly remarkable, including the development of new techniques that were adopted by numerous other artists of his era.

And beyond. From The Met website:

His career lasted just over a decade and coincided with two major developments in late nineteenth-century Paris: the birth of modern printmaking and the explosion of nightlife culture. Lautrec’s posters promoted Montmartre entertainers as celebrities, and elevated the popular medium of the advertising lithograph to the realm of high art . . .

Though he died tragically young (at age thirty-six) due to complications from alcoholism and syphilis, his influence was long-lasting. It is fair to say that without Lautrec, there would be no Andy Warhol.

And without MoMA, there would be no Currier Museum exhibit.

But there it is. Totally worth the drive.

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