The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is partnering with the Boston Public Library (BPL) to organize Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris, a major exhibition opening in April 2019 that will explore Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s extraordinary attention to performance—particularly the stars and entertainments of 19th-century Montmartre, the bohemian center of Parisian nightlife. Both institutions house rich holdings of works by the artist, which are renowned for their bold colors and radical compositions. The exhibition will present more than 200 of Toulouse-Lautrec’s evocative posters, prints and paintings, including more than 100 works from the BPL’s collection—one of the largest-ever loans made to a single institution in the library’s history.
Throughout the month of June 2019, BPL cardholders can sample MFA membership by presenting their library cards at any ticket desk to receive free admission to the Museum (for two adults and up to six kids per visit) and a 10-percent discount in the Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris exhibition shop. The collaboration will also feature a range of public programming offered at the MFA and the BPL throughout the run of the exhibition, including introductory talks in English, Spanish and Mandarin led by MFA Guides at the Library’s 25 neighborhood branches, as well as family-friendly activities taking place at the Museum.
The exhibition will open in the MFA’s Ann and Graham Gund Gallery on April 7, 2019 and remain on view through August 4, 2019. MFA members will be the first to see Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris during the Member Preview, April 2–6, 2019. The exhibition examines how Toulouse-Lautrec pushed his art in new directions to portray the celebrity culture of his time—equally fascinated, much like today, with the performers’ personal lives as with the roles they played. Using brazen colors and expressive lines, the artist depicted the defining gestures, costumes and expressions of the celebrities of the day, many of whom were his personal friends. His images of performers—including cabaret stars Yvette Guilbert and Aristide Bruant, dancers Jane Avril and Loïe Fuller, and actress Marcelle Lender—contributed to their fame, distributed through prints and posters to an eager audience.
Thematic sections will highlight the changing social and artistic landscapes of 19th-century Paris and the contemporary importance of prints and posters. The exhibition will incorporate works by Toulouse-Lautrec’s contemporaries Edgar Degas, Honoré Daumier, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and others—presenting him in the context of his heroes, peers and followers. An illustrated catalogue will accompany Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris, produced by MFA Publications and released in April 2019. The publication will be available at the BPL’s Central Library and all neighborhood branches for perusal and checkout.
“Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Boston Public Library. The exhibition is sponsored by the resort Encore Boston Harbor, located in Everett, MA. Additional support from the great-grandchildren of Albert H. Wiggin, the Cordover Exhibition Fund and anonymous funders.