Prints in Paris 1990: From Elite to the Street @ Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is devoting itself to 'Prints in Paris 1900: From Elite to the Street', a major exhibition of work from its own fin-de-siècle print collection until the 11th of June 2017.

Poster for the Café-concert Le Divan Japonais  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893
Poster for the Café-concert Le Divan Japonais  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893

Over 250 prints will be on display, including iconic works by Bonnard, Chéret, Steinlen and Toulouse-Lautrec, and world-famous posters like Le Chat Noir and Le Moulin Rouge. They will be shown alongside paintings, historical photographs and decorative objects.
In this way, the exhibition will offer visitors a glimpse of the cosmopolitan life of fin-de-siècle Paris, the ‘artistic capital of the world’ at the time.

Le Chat Noir - Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1896
Le Chat Noir - Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1896
poster for the Dance Hall Le Moulin Rouge  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891
Moulin Rouge, La Goulue, poster for the Dance Hall Le Moulin Rouge  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891
At first, printmaking was primarily used in France to reproduce artworks as accurately as possible for a broad public. This changed radically in the second half of the nineteenth century, when each print began to be viewed as an artwork in its own right. The fin de siècle (1890–1905) was the heyday of printmaking: virtually the entire avant-garde experimented intensively with the different techniques, resulting in marvellous and innovative works of art. Prints, posters and even illustrations for cheap magazines reached every layer of Parisian society. Prints served not only as autonomous artworks in elite circles, they could also be admired in the French capital’s streets and boulevards.

Darkness and decadence
The presentation opens on the lower floor of the exhibition wing with the sophisticated artistic circles of the fin de siècle, in which the prints were kept and viewed in the intimacy of richly decorated interiors. Four such interiors have been recreated specially for the exhibition, based on fin-de-siècle examples.
A particularly imposing exhibit is the rarely loaned Bibliothèque designed by François-Rupert Carabin in 1890 (Musée d’Orsay): an exuberantly decorated bookcase several metres tall with carvings of nude women, in which valuable books and prints belonging to a private collector were stored.
The private existence of such prints meant that artists felt freer to explore darker or more titillating themes.
On the upper floor, visitors enter a completely different world: the darkness and decadence of the beau monde interior gives way to the fleeting impressions and visual spectacle of modern street life, in which artistic posters, sheet music and magazine illustrations with their bright colours, large letters and powerful silhouettes, vie for the passer-by’s attention.
Posters are displayed on walls set in historic Paris street scenes.
The highlight is Steinlen’s poster The Street, which, with an area of 7.5m2, is a genuine ‘fresco for the masses’. Other life-sized posters with the likenesses of enigmatic celebrities tempt passers-by into the city’s nightlife.
The journey is rounded off by a final interior in which visitors can see how the same fashionable collectors took the more public kind of printmaking, intended for the streets of Paris, back into the interior, where it was stored in specially made cabinets or hung on the wall as decoration.

A variety of printing techniques, lastly, are presented in a separate technical room, with the original lithography press of the artistic master printer Auguste Clot (1858–1936) as the main attraction.
The exhibition design is by Maarten Spruyt and Tsur Reshef.

At La Bodinière (A la Bodinière)  Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1894
At La Bodinière (A la Bodinière)  Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1894
Artists' Book Des chats, dessins sans paroles  Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1898
Artists' Book Des chats, dessins sans paroles  Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1898

Richly illustrated catalogue
The exhibition Prints in Paris 1900: From Elite to the Street is accompanied by a richly illustrated, large-format catalogue written by Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho, the museum’s Curator of Prints and Drawings. The publication is based on years of intensive research into the worlds of printmaking during the French fin de siècle.
The book is available in Dutch, English, French and German and will be distributed worldwide.
A separate print of Félix Vallotton’s 1896 woodcut Laziness (La paresse), 25 x 33 cm, is included as a special gift for readers.
192 pages, 38 x 25.3 cm, 185 illustration, € 45.00.
Publisher: Mercatorfonds, Brussels.
Also available online at Van Gogh Museum Shop

Source: Van Gogh Museum
Prints in Paris 1990: From Elite to the Street @ Van Gogh Museum Prints in Paris 1990: From Elite to the Street @ Van Gogh Museum Reviewed by Patricia Munster on 9:53:00 AM Rating: 5

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