Of aristocratic origins, Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), marked by his physical deformity, overcame his painful condition by exploiting ceaselessly his drawing skills which, demonstrated since his childhood, constituted a family tradition.
Deeply interested in “ nocturnal paradises ” of all kinds - from opera to cabarets and brothels - he haunted the world of bohemia and the Montmartre demi-monde of which his vision was both human and unrelenting, free from all moral or social judgement. He developed a multi-faceted painted and graphical work which the exhibition aimed at showing through a progress which was at the same time thematic and chronological.
The precision of his stroke, prompt to seize the silhouettes of the great stars of the Paris stages - Jane Avril, Loïe Fuller, Aristide Bruant etc.- and to explore their psychology and his bold layouts not only deeply marked the arts of poster-making and illustration but also the applied arts of the Art Nouveau.
Toulouse-Lautrec thus asserted himself as a first-rank personality in the French artistic life at the outset of the 20th century.
CuratorsClaire Frèche-Thory, chief curator, Musée d'Orsay, Anne Rocquebert, curator, Musée d'Orsay and Richard Thompson, Professor of art history, University of Edinburgh
Yale University Press, New Haven