A preeminent artist of Belle Époque Paris, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) brought the language of the late-19th-century avant-garde to a broad public through his famous posters, prints, and illustrations for journals and magazines. A cultural nexus, he connected artists, performers, authors, intellectuals, and society figures of his day, creating a bridge between the brothels and society salons of the moment. His work allows entry into many facets of Parisian life, from politics to visual culture and the rise of popular entertainment in the form of cabarets and café-concerts. This exhibition, drawn almost exclusively from The Museum of Modern Art’s stellar collection of posters, lithographs, printed ephemera, and illustrated books, is the first MoMA exhibition in 30 years dedicated solely to Lautrec, and features over 100 examples of the best-known works created during the apex of his career.
Organized thematically, the exhibition explores five subjects that together create a portrait of Lautrec’s Paris. A section devoted to café-concerts and dance halls examines the rise of nightlife culture in France through the depiction of famous venues, including the celebrated Moulin Rouge. Another focuses on the actresses, singers, dancers, and performers who sparked the artist’s imagination and served as his muses, including Yvette Guilbert, acclaimed dancer Loie Fuller, and close friend Jane Avril.