4 January 2013
The Van Gogh Museum has enriched its collection with two new acquisitions.
It concerens acquisitions revolving around the American dancer Loïe Fuller (1862-1928): a colour lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and an artist’s book written by Roger Marx, with illustrations by Pierre Roche.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Fuller’s innovative choreographies created a sensation in the music hall Folies Bergère, in Paris. With her vast flowing gowns, the dancer produced a rapid succession of organic shapes. She used wind machines and coloured lamps as accessories to her shows. A veritable cult soon grew up around her personality.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithograph of Fuller’s dance, which shows her hovering above the stage like a fragile bird, is one of his most experimental prints. Unlike Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters, which are already well represented in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum, this print has no commercial message; it is an autonomous work, printed in a small edition for a select group of collectors. As a result, it was made with considerable artistic freedom. For instance, in the final phase of the printing process, Toulouse-Lautrec dusted the stone with silver powder to create a soft shimmering effect.
Hand-coloured paper ‘sculptures’
In 1892, the influential art critic Roger Marx devised the idea of producing an illustrated book about Loïe Fuller together with Pierre Roche, one of Rodin’s pupils. They ended up working on this project until 1904. Roche produced nineteen gypsographs – reliefs pressed into the paper − as illustrations for Marx’s text, enhancing them with subtle colouring. These hand-coloured paper ‘sculptures’ aptly express the rarefied nature of Fuller’s dance and robes.