Stepping out in Montmartre

Prints of cafés and theatres

11 February - 18 September 2011

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Tournée du Chat Noir, 1896, Van Gogh Museum, AmsterdamThe district of Montmartre in Paris was a centre of artistic innovation at the end of the nineteenth century. Van Gogh lived there from 1886 to 1888 and aligned himself with the avant-garde. Toulouse-Lautrec and Steinlen made their famous illustrations and posters there in the 1890s, and when Picasso arrived in Paris in 1900, Montmartre was just the place to be if you were an artist.

The feel of the modern city
In addition to entertainment, the bustling nightlife, with all the cafés, theatres, dance halls and brothels, afforded a wide range of subjects for artists interested in capturing the feel of the modern city.
The advent of colour lithography stimulated an unprecedented production of posters and other publicity material by avant-garde artists. They also made illustrations for magazines and sheet music, and designs for theatre decors and shadow plays.

La Goulue
Louise Weber, nicknamed 'La Goulue' (The Glutton) was Paris’ Queen of the Night and muse for Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters of the Moulin Rouge. In this video from around 1925 she dances a fragment of the Cancan at nearly 60 years of age.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, La Goulue at the Moulin Rouge, 1891

Impression of the flourishing artistic climate
The exhibition Stepping out in Montmartre: Prints of cafés and theatres gives an impression of this flourishing artistic climate. Posters, prints and theatre programmes by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and Henri-Gabriel Ibels, among others, show how the artists who inspired Picasso portrayed nightlife in the artists’ district. Several of the works Vincent van Gogh made in Montmartre are also on view.

Lecture on Sunday
1 May: Het Montmartre van de kunstenaars (The Montmartre of the artists) in Dutch by
Nienke Bakker (curator of exhibitions, Van Gogh Museum).

Publication (June 2011)
Van Gogh and Montmartre, Nienke Bakker, € 15.
This book explores Van Gogh’s connection with Montmartre. The artist’s district contained a veritable treasure trove of motifs to draw and paint. Van Gogh recorded the characteristic mills, vegetable gardens, view of the city, narrow streets and passers-by with verve and an eye for detail. In this period Van Gogh also became friends with other artists and made his first serious attempts to sell and exhibit his work. By the time he left for Arles in the south of France in 1888 he had developed from a realistic painter of peasants into a modern artist in the footsteps of the Impressionists.

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