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The work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), one of the best-known and widely-reproduced artists of modern times, gets a fresh look at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art this winter in an exhibition curated by undergraduate students and developed in a course taught by renowned 19th-century French art expert S. Hollis Clayson.
Free and open to the public, “Toulouse-Lautrec Prints: Art at the Edges of Modernity” opens Jan. 13 and runs through April 19. This exhibition highlights the final decade of Toulouse-Lautrec’s life with a focused selection of 18 lithographic works, including public posters and advertisements, publications and privately circulated portfolios.
The works have been lent by Chicago-based collectors Andra and Irwin Press, supporters of the Block Museum who have bequeathed a significant number of works from their collection to the museum.
Showcasing the complexity and variety of Toulouse-Lautrec’s production, this exhibition presents his work in the context of the rise of printmaking, celebrity culture and the entertainment district in Paris in the late 1800s.
“This exhibition reveals a Toulouse-Lautrec the public may not know: a deft and innovative printmaker whose work had an amazing range in terms of audience and style,” says Professor Clayson, who is professor of art history and the Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
“Through the lithographs in this exhibition, viewers will see approaches ranging from caricature to delicate portraiture and forms ranging from flat un-modulated color to delicate atmospheric spattered ink. Toulouse-Lautrec worked for many different audiences, from workers looking at street posters to elite art connoisseurs.”
On Jan. 21 at 5 p.m., the Block will host “An Evening with Toulouse-Lautrec,” which will feature Prof. Clayson providing an overview of Toulouse-Lautrec’s career and the exhibition. The event is free and open to the public.