THE RYDGES POST
Art lovers and Francophiles should put this in their diary. Toulouse-Lautrec – Paris and the Moulin Rouge is Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia’s next summer exhibition and will run from 14 December 2012 to 2 April 2013.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s art had far more depth than the poster-prints that seemed de rigeur as wall adornment for inner city terrace houses in the 1970’s. He was technically brilliant in all media and an acute observer of Parisian life – both the high life and the low life.
The Australian public have never before had the opportunity to see a major retrospective exhibition devoted to this amazing 19th century artist with more than 120 paintings, drawings, posters and prints on loan from the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan in New York and the Courtauld and The Tate in London.
The painting featured is of a lass called Louise Weber, a can-can dancer of the time who performed under the name ‘La Goulue’ (the glutton) and who was also known as the Queen of Montmartre. The Glutton was an affectionate nickname because part of her act was to quickly and playfully down the contents of customers’ glasses as she danced past their tables.
She was a favourite subject for Lautrec. Henri was attracted to the decadent, lively, seedy and colourful world of nightclubs, brothels and dance halls of Paris, but often he found himself an observer rather than the debonair, hedonistic ‘player’ he would have liked to have been. You see, Henri’s parents were first cousins and they really shouldn’t have attempted breeding.
For a combination of reasons, Henri’s legs stopped growing and he found himself a disproportionate 1.54m tall with kiddie-sized legs and disproportionate genitalia. Doctors would call it hypertrophy, the local prostitutes called him ‘the little teapot”. We will never know if he would have immersed himself in art if he didn’t have the condition… or whether the condition caused him to also immerse himself in alcohol, which was the cause of his death at the age of just 36.
Tickets are on sale now, the exhibition will only happen in Canberra and it is a great reason to pay a visit to our national capital.
Oh! And the other little image on the right isn't art moderne - it is Henri's signature!