The life and work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), an illustrious French painter and graphic artist, symbolises the intensity and exoticism of the Parisian fin de siecle. A central figure of Parisian nightlife, Lautrec’s artistic oeuvre embraces picturesque Montmartre scenes as well as the lively pulse of music cafés and dance halls of the era. Featuring unusual silhouettes, stark colour contrasts, dramatic lighting, and pronounced contours, the posters created in the last decade of his life have turned advertising into an art form, for the first time blurring the distinction between fine art and the so-called applied arts.
The exhibition is divided into six thematic sections: La plume magazine and Salon des cent, Lautrec and Montmartre, Lautrec and Japanism, The vogue of poster collection, Lautrec and Bruant, Lautrec’s passion for lithographic print and Nouveau Salon des cent.
Lautrec’s ingenious graphic solutions still resound in contemporary poster art. That is why the exhibition also encompasses a selection of posters devised in 2001, on the occasion of the centennial of Lautrec’s death, within the scope of Nouveau Salon Des Cents, a nostalgic international portfolio of one hundred graphic artists. Including names such as Milton Glaser, Mieczyslaw Gorowski, and Kari Pippo, the exhibition is incontrovertible proof that the art of poster still inspires contemporary graphic artists.