Albi France – 1864 -1901

By all accounts as isolated from mainstream society as by his own account he was isolated from artistic circles, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec recorded Paris’s underworld from brothels to cabarets. Born an aristocrat, he broke both legs in childhood; during his convalescence he turned to drawing and painting. In 1882 Toulouse-Lautrec began studying art in Paris, where he met Post-Impressionists like Vincent van Gogh. By 1885 he had a studio in Montmartre, the notorious center of Parisian nightlife. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris from 1889 and in Brussels. In 1891 his first posters brought him immediate recognition. Hospitalized for alcoholism in 1899, he continued making art and died in 1901. Toulouse-Lautrec loathed professional models; prostitutes and cabaret performers provided him with the natural, unconstrained movement he sought. He painted quickly, frequently in thinned oil paint on unprimed cardboard, using its neutral tone as a design element and conveying action and atmosphere in a few economical strokes. Japanese prints inspired his oblique angles of vision, near-abstract shapes, and calligraphic lines. In later years graphic works took precedence; his paintings were often studies for lithographs.