The Art Institute of Chicago
(The Art Institute of Chicago Website)
111 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre
July 16 – October 10, 2005
(See a Comprehensive Review of This Exhibit)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 23, 2005
While in Chicago for the weekend, I was thrilled to be able to catch this Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit, previously reviewed in totality in this magazine. As a woman who has actually spent one evening at Moulin Rouge, a Dance Hall in Paris, renowned for Can-Can and champagne, and as a longtime admirer of the posters and paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, I entered this exhibit with eager anticipation. I was not at all disappointed.
The Art Institute of Chicago fully captured the essence and enchantment of Toulouse-Lautrec’s magic and moment. From the signature Café, as one enters the hallway, to the film clips of can-can or surreal dance, to the well-organized galleries for specific Cafés, such as Le Chat Noir, for specific locales, such as Montmartre and Dance Halls, for specific stars of the Café-Concerts, such as the iconic Jane Avril or Yvette Guilbert, or the dancer, Marcelle Lender, or the Circus scene, or the goings on in the brothels and back rooms, the selection of posters, paintings, drawings, and juxtaposed works of Lautrec’s contemporaries and colleagues was well conceived and creative in context.
The Bohemian ambiance of late 19th century Montmartre and even its ambiance today (when the tourists are not in abundance) was captured in full, as exotic dancers, café denizens, circus acrobats, clowns, and horses, and women of the night were depicted in the absinthe-induced and emotional longing of the artist and milieu. The addition of works by Lautrec’s contemporaries seemed somewhat superfluous, as Lautrec, to this observer, is a purist, not in need of collegial support. It seems to be de rigueur, these days, to include works of the featured artist’s contemporaries (See Manet and the Sea) in museum retrospectives, and sometimes more is less.
Kudos to The Art Institute of Chicago for Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre. Check The Art Institute of Chicago’s Website for current and upcoming exhibits.
Roberta at Courtyard Café
Art Institute of Chicago