Born to aristocratic parents who were first cousins, Toulouse-Lautrec was afflicted with genetic abnormalities. He stopped growing in his early teens at the height of four feet, 11 inches, and as he continued to mature, the growth of his nose and lips outpaced that of his face, causing drooling, lisping, and sinus troubles. Physically unfit for many of the social and sporting elements central to aristocratic life, Toulouse-Lautrec moved to Paris to study art, where he pursued both his creative and social life with vigor. He spent his days working on painting and lithography, and his absinthe-fueled nights at the opera, theaters, cafés, or nightclubs. His life and work merged; he became a chronicler of the Montmartre scenes he frequented.
Suzuki describes Toulouse-Lautrec’s subjects as “resoundingly populist.” She writes, “Toulouse-Lautrec was a nightly visitor to the theater, the circus, and the opera, finding tremendous freedom and inspiration in those milieus.” Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed the performers he adored, like “The Clowness,” Mademoiselle Cha-u-ka-o, a nightclub entertainer.
An 1893 lithograph shows Toulouse-Lautrec’s friend Aristide Bruant, the proprietor of the Mirliton—a Montmartre café. Although Bruant is shown in profile, his back to the viewer, contemporaries would have immediately recognized his large felt hat and velvet coat; the portrait rests on social signifiers rather than on faithful depiction. Suzuki explains that Toulouse-Lautrec “used the low-cut dress of La Goulue, the high-stepping posture of Jane Avril, the gloves of Yvette Guilbert, and the profile of Valentin, rather than traditional portrait likenesses. Toulouse-Lautrec himself was quoted telling Guilbert, ‘Ma chere, I don’t detail you. I totalize you!’”
Using MoMA’s extensive collection of Toulouse-Lautrec’s prints, posters, journals, songs sheets, theatre programs, and illustrated books as her inspiration, Suzuki paints a portrait of an artist whose unique biography, persona, and taste is clearly reflected in his art. She places Toulouse-Lautrec squarely in and of his historical milieu, positing that his work might be seen as a visual distillation of the spirit of the Parisian belle époque.
Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988 is the companion catalogue to the exhibition under the same title, co-organized by Luis Pérez-Oramas, The Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art, MoMA, and Connie Butler, Chief Curator, Hammer Museum, with Geaninne Gutiérrez-Guimarães and Beatriz Rabelo Olivetti, Curatorial Assistants, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA. The first comprehensive retrospective to take place in North America, this landmark exhibition is matched by the accompanying publication, containing 13 chapters and 380 plates. Read more
MoMA recently launched its first digital-only publication, Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912–1914, edited by Anne Umland and Blair Hartzell, with Scott Gerson. This immersive, interactive study features over 400 high-resolution images and the latest research on 15 groundbreaking Cubist works created by Picasso between 1912 and 1914, and is available as an iPad app through the App Store, or an interactive PDF through MoMAstore.org. Read more
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 is the first comprehensive Sigmar Polke retrospective to cover the broad range of mediums he worked in from 1963 until his death in 2010. The accompanying catalogue is as comprehensive and diverse as the show, Read more
Maira Kalman—much-beloved artist, illustrator, writer, designer, and New Yorker—has been collecting vintage photographs for 30 years, seeking them out at antique shops, flea markets, and countless other places in the city and during her travels. Read more
Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New is the catalogue published to accompany the exhibition of the same name currently on view at MoMA. Both are a tribute to art dealer and gallerist Ileana Sonnabend (1914–2007) for her taste and enduring influence. Read more
Isaac Julien: RIOT is not your typical exhibition catalogue. With most of the writing done by artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien himself, it is more like an illustrated intellectual biography. Read more
First published in 1971 and newly reissued by MoMA, Living Well Is the Best Revenge by New Yorker staff writer Calvin Tomkins is the now-classic account of the lives of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two fascinating American expatriates who lived an extraordinary life in France in the 1920s. Read more