Monday, January 14, 2008

Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibition

I spent a couple of hours Friday morning at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art viewing the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition that ended last weekend.Subtitled "la vie parisienne" it covered the last 10 years of his short 36 year life.On display were some 300 odd works including paintings,drawings and the posters for which he is widely known for.According to my copy of Art for Dummies Toulouse-Lautrec "was and wasnt an Impressionist and stands alone with a personalised and quirky form of realism"(pg 155).
I was intrigued by the inclusion of a number of Japanese wood block prints in the show.These woodblock prints or ukiyo-e(literally "pictures of the floating world") began filtering into Europe from the 1850s and became available for purchase in some specialised stores in Paris.A number of the European painters of the time,including Toulouse-Lautrec, adopted in their own work some features of the prints.
In his posters,you can see for example, his use of black silhouetted figures and black,background shapes that were commonly employed in ukiyo-e.Some of the poses and stances of figures in his posters again look reminiscent of the earlier prints.As does his use of clear outlines and the use of contrasting flat areas of colour with areas of patterns.
It was interesting to walk back and forth between the Japanese prints and the posters and compare the styles.
I was pleased I made the effort to see this show.Even though there were no real stand outs for me on display it was still worthwhile seeing the paintings and posters first hand.I also appreciated the opportunity to see how Japanese wood block prints influenced his work particularly in the design of his posters.

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