'Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre' (2005)

Every epoch views art in its own way, so it should not be surprising that a period dominated by popular culture would emphasize the same characteristics in art of the past.<p>
"Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre" is a spectacular example. Given that the Lautrec retrospectives of 1979 and 1992 focused attention on the art and artist, the present show moves away from analysis and biography to use a little more than 10 years of Lautrec as so many lenses for viewing the place that concentrated much of the popular entertainment of his day.<p>
This is done handsomely owing to more than 250 pieces by Lautrec, his predecessors and colleagues, as well as an unusual array of documentary materials, so opportunities for formal analysis and biographical discovery still are present. Yet they are not the reasons for the show, as they were in "Seurat and the Making of `La Grande Jatte.'" Where that effort told an audience it would have to work, tracing the development of a complex masterpiece, this one promises a vacation of touristic, voyeuristic fun.

Every epoch views art in its own way, so it should not be surprising that a period dominated by popular culture would emphasize the same characteristics in art of the past.

"Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre" is a spectacular example. Given that the Lautrec retrospectives of 1979 and 1992 focused attention on the art and artist, the present show moves away from analysis and biography to use a little more than 10 years of Lautrec as so many lenses for viewing the place that concentrated much of the popular entertainment of his day.

This is done handsomely owing to more than 250 pieces by Lautrec, his predecessors and colleagues, as well as an unusual array of documentary materials, so opportunities for formal analysis and biographical discovery still are present. Yet they are not the reasons for the show, as they were in "Seurat and the Making of `La Grande Jatte.'" Where that effort told an audience it would have to work, tracing the development of a complex masterpiece, this one promises a vacation of touristic, voyeuristic fun.

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