Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Toulouse-Lautrec: High Kicks & Low Life (Walker Art Gallery)

Only the figure exists... the landscape is just an accessory
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

While I was at home for a few days, my nan and I popped into the Walker for a visit. I mainly went to see if I could get myself a print of my Marilyn Monroe photograph... plus, I wanted to pay David Garrick a visit. It just so happened that there was an exhibition of Toulouse-Lautrec prints in the Special Collections.

High Kicks & Low Life is one of the best names for an exhibition that I have ever seen. It seemed to not only sum up the Toulouse-Lautrec images, but a large proportion of the things we have been discussing in class. For example, ideas of attraction to working class images and the male gaze. Nan and I ended up getting into a discussion with one of the gallery attendants about the display who seemed to be genuinely enthused to talk to people knowledgeably about the art on show. It seems strange that I was so familiar with the aesthetic of Toulouse-Lautrec, but so unfamiliar with him or his actual works. It seems as though his highly identifiable illustratorly style has been so thoroughly absorbed into popular and design culture that it almost becomes impossible to separate the source from its products when contemplating aesthetics. I am very glad I saw this exhibition, it was rich and interesting both in the art and the stories they told.


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