Friday, May 11, 2012

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Pioneer Urban Flâneur (draft)

Henri de Toulose-Lautrec, Au Moulin Rouge, Art Institute of Chicago ( )

There is not doubt that Touluse-Lautrec was an urban flâneur.  He  was enamored  with the street life, the cafes, the music halls and  people of  Paris during his lifetime. . He was not just an observer, but a participant.  This painting, Au Moulin Rouge, as many of his, brings you into Lautrec’s world and the bourgeoisie society of Paris during the 1890s.  In this painting  he is criticizing the vanity of the upper Middle Class and its rigidity.  His criticism of the vanity of women  of this era is evident by the women primping, and posing, particularly prominent in the face of the women dominating the right of the painting.  The table of men and women are not enjoying the occasion, but are notability somber, except for the insertion of Lautrec on the side of the painting, who appears to have a smirk on this face; perhaps implying that he was amused by the soberness and status conscious stance of his companions. The perspective of the painting as one who is looking passively onto a scene. But, by Lautrec putting himself in the painting, he is implying that is was both an outside observer and interactive part of the environment itself.  Like all urban flâneurs, Toulouse-Lautrec is saying ‘here is ordinary daily event set it an urban setting which is unworthy of contemplation, but look closer and see it with my eyes.’  

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