The Ripoff Artists will kick up their heels this summer with Toulouse-Lautrec! One of the best-known and well-loved artists of the 19th century, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is famous for being short, consorting with characters of ill-repute such as prostitutes, performers and artists, and for creating many beloved images of dancers, clowns, and musicians in his brief career.
Eldest son of a French nobleman, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) suffered from a congenital illness that caused his legs to stop growing and he was never taller than 4’ 8″. Unable to engage in the expected activities of aristocratic life, he turned to art. As a young man he moved to Paris and became a major figure in the art scene there. His paintings were received eagerly in galleries and exhibitions, and he made prints and posters for clubs. His name is linked forever with the can-can and the Moulin Rouge.
One friend said Toulouse-Lautrec felt cut off from normal life, and “found an affinity between his own condition and the moral penury of the prostitute”. His paintings of brothels and clubs do not glamourize prostitution or night life, nor do they incite activism. He wanted to show the tender, sometimes boring, reality of life in the underworld of Paris. He produced a prodigious amount of work in only 20 years, and died of complications from alcoholism and syphilis at the age of 36.
Yet his work lives on. His images of dancers and musicians capture the mood of the music and the glow of the footlights, his scenes of prostitutes in ordinary moments are touching and human, while his bored drinkers seem like people we might know.
The Ripoff Artists will jump in with both feet and create their own versions of Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster of Jane Avril at the Jardins de Paris. The Quail’s Nest Arts Centre at 5840 Airport Road will be transformed into an artist’s studio from the 1880s, or perhaps a den of iniquity. . . Come to the opening reception between 6 and 8 pm on Monday evening, July 20 to find out which!
The artists will be hard at work from 9 am to 3 pm Tuesday July 21 to Saturday July 25 at the Quail’s Nest, so come and experience the demi-monde of Oliver’s art scene!