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Toulouse-Lautrec and the Celebrity Culture of Paris

Exhibition

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Welcome to Montmarte—an outlying Parisian neighborhood known for its cabarets and dance halls—where a flamboyant nightlife exploded in the late 19th century. Among the artists, performers, and ambitious entrepreneurs who called this bohemian quartier home was painter and printmaker Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who made a career depicting its most colorful personalities using the relatively new advertising medium of large-scale posters.

This focused installation of his works comprises posters, paintings, and painted objects. Dynamic and instantly recognizable, Lautrec’s images filled the streets of Paris and helped catapult his clients to fame. Through cutting-edge experiments in lithography, Lautrec emphasized the distinctive traits of singers and dancers such as Jane Avril, Aristide Bruant, and May Milton, as well as actors, writers, and cabaret owners, to distinguish them from their competition. Even as he helped make celebrities of others, Lautrec himself became a celebrity of sorts through the popularity of his posters and paintings, notable for their singular style and unconventional materials and techniques.

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