Musée d'Orsay: Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Resolutely Modern

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Resolutely Modern

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) 
 Panneau pour la baraque de la Goulue, à la Foire du Trône à Paris [Panel for La Goulue's Booth at the Foire du Trône, Paris]
 Oil on canvas
 H. 298; W. 316 cm
 Paris, Musée d'Orsay
Henri de Toulouse-LautrecPanel for La Goulue's Booth at the Foire du Trône, Paris© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR
Since 1992, the date of the last retrospective ever given to the artist in France, many exhibitions have sought to place the work of Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901), in the “Culture of Montmartre”. By emphasising the context and folklore of the Moulin Rouge, the aesthetic, poetic and even political aims of Lautrec have disappeared from view.

As his correspondence confirms, Manet, Degas and Foarin enabled him, from the mid 1880s, to transform his powerful naturalism into a more incisive and caustic style. Real continuities can be seen throughout his short career. One of them is the narrative element, which is more present in Lautrec’s work than one might think. It is particularly evident as he approached his death around 1900, when his vocation as a history painter turned to despair.

The other dimension of his work, which can be linked to his apprenticeship, is the desire to represent Time, and soon, to represent its duration rather than freezing it. Whether it was Princeteau, who taught him to paint horses, Cormon, an energetic painter par excellence, or Degas, who pushed him into pursuing the dynamic beyond dance, Lautrec never stopped reformulating the space/time element of the image. He succeeded in reconciling the subjective fragmentation of the image and the desire to push modern life towards new myths.

With paintings, literature and new media, the exhibition finds its way, in close contact with this person who unwittingly helped usher in the 20th century.


Stéphane Guégan, scientific advisor to the President of the Musées d'Orsay and de l'Orangerie
Danièle Devynck, director of the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi

This exhibition was organised by the Réunion des musées nationaux and the Public Establishment of the Musées d'Orsay and de l'Orangerie, in collaboration with the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi.

9 October 2019 - 27 January 2020

Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais

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