Toulouse-Lautrec arrives at the Chrysler Musuem

The Chrysler Museum of Arts in Norfolk prides itself on being a beacon to all appreciators of art and their latest exhibit “The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec” seeks to attract fans of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He is often credited one of the first to document the “hedonistic nightlife that still define the ideal of bohemian urban life today,” according to a press statement released by the Chrysler. 

The 122-piece exhibit is organized around Toulouse-Lautrec’s average days in Paris in the mid-1800s and his experience with the vaudeville-style performances emerging during the time. 

This exhibition includes lithograph posters, both pencil and ink drawings, and a selection of Japanese “Ukiyo-e” woodcut prints, according to Lloyd DeWitt, chief curator at the Chrysler. “Like many Parisian artists, his printmaking style was heavily influenced by Japanese woodcut prints being exported to Europe for the first time,” according to the press release. 

There will be a complementary exhibition called “Inspiring Impressionism” that explore this link further. Ukiyo-e or “floating world pictures”, according to the press release, is a Japanese art form that includes paintings on wood that depict scenes from history, folk tales, and average life. 

Understanding this link is central to understand Toulouse-Lautrec’s art, as his posters and drawings to depict the “everyday denizens of the city,” according to the press release. He also depicts women in their daily lives, like sipping coffee or putting on makeup. 

Toulouse-Lautrec’s career as an artist only lasted 10 years as he succumbed to a stroke when he was just 36. However, despite his short career, Toulouse-Lautrec made a lasting impact on the modern bohemian art style by focusing attention to seemingly menial activities and aspects of Parisian nightlife that were often passed over. 

“Toulouse-Lautrec was furiously productive in his short 10-year career,” DeWitt said. “He captured the freedom, energy and creativity of the new entertainment industry in Paris, absorbing influences like photography and newly available Japanese prints to create popular posters that still define for us the magic of Belle Epoque Paris, and the possibilities for urban life today.” 

Though he may have passed, his art lives on. It continues to inspire others as one of the brightest stars that has found a new place to shine in Chrysler’s galleries. The exhibition will be on display until June 18.