Discovering Toulouse-Lautrec

Good morning Beauties!

Today I want to share with you my impressions about the Toulouse-Lautrec Il mondo fuggevole exhibition at Palazzo Reale in Milan. I have to be honest with you: I didn’t know much about this artist before visiting the exhibition, even though I’ve always loved his lovely affiches and art because of their unique style.


At the exhibition, there are many artworks, both paintings but mainly advertisements. He was the first artist to elevate advertising and consider it as a form of art. Henri used to create amusing and catchy billboards to sponsor his artists’ friends and express all the charm of the Belle Époque. He was a dwarf because of genetic problems and this condition forced him, when he was a teenager, to direct his passion for riding horses and playing outside into art. He was blessed with talent: his work was surely influenced by the Impressionists and by the work of Van Gogh, one of his friends, as it can be seen from the long brushstrokes. When Toulouse-Lautrec moved to Paris, he started hanging out with other artists in the usual cafes and pubs, becoming friend to those people who lived on the fringes of society such as prostitutes and can-can dancers. It was for charming ladies such as Jane Avril and La Goulue but also for many talents of the Moulin Rouge and other night clubs that Henri made his beautiful adverts.

Jane Avril advert
Emile Bernard 1885 by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901
Portrait of Emile Bernard

Toulouse-Lautrec never really accepted his physical condition: he hated self-portraits and almost all his photos taken at the time are desecrating and irreverent. When he moved to Paris, he got close to those people who were considered weirdos by society because he didn’t feel alone having them at his side: he understood their condition and felt understood too.

It took me around three hours to walk around the exhibition and learn about the artist and his work quite in-depth. When I left, I felt a bitter sensation: I felt sorry for the horrible condition the painter was constrained to, but I was also moved and I admired his strength of spirit and his capacity to take the best out of this life. This double attitude is visible in many of his artworks: on one side, there is beauty and skill, on the other the majority of his subjects resemble a caricature rather than a truthful representation of their physical connotations.

Aristide Bruant

It’s been an eye-opening exhibition, simply curated but intellectually challenging. I’ve learnt a lot about Toulouse-Lautrec, but most importantly I’ve learnt that no matter where you go, you cannot escape from your own self perception, but you can find places and people that help you accommodate and accept it.


Exhibition details:

Palazzo Reale, Milan

17.10.2017 – 18.2.2018


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