Home » Paris in Sacramento: Crocker’s Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibit Showcases French Modernism

Paris in Sacramento: Crocker’s Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibit Showcases French Modernism


The Crocker Art Museum’s exhibit “Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1910” gives visitors a flashback to the artistic and literary movements that resonated throughout Paris during the era and helped build the city it is today.

The Crocker, the only California venue to present this exhibit, is showcasing 191 art pieces including theater posters, drawings, programs, paintings and journals, among others.

“We are delighted to bring important works of art, including Toulouse-Lautrec’s original lithographs, from faraway places like Musée d’Ixelles (Brussels) and Gemeentemuseum (The Hague) to Sacramento,” said Nancy Ciraulo, Communications and Public Relations Specialist for the museum.

Given the title includes “Toulouse-Lautrec”, it’s natural that the exhibit’s largest portion is dedicated to the well-known artist’s work and social world. His artwork encapsulates the time’s new dispositions of modern society challenging the constraining French Academic standards through vibrant renditions of performances and cabaret, circus and risqué entertainers.

Toulouse-Lautrec works existed alongside artwork of the Naturalists, the Nabis, the Symbolists and the Incohérents.

While Toulouse-Lautrecs’ pieces are the focus, he’s not the only artist you’ll see. The exhibit incorporates 49 other artists such as Teophile-Alexandre Steinlein and Henri Riviere, known for his gouache “Les Chats Noir”.

As a period challenging standards of the times, there was opposition to the modernity observable in the displayed art of Maurice Dumont and Fernand Khnopff among others. Toulouse-Lautrec’s art is comprised of color lithograph, but there are other artworks made with oil, pastel, watercolor, graphite ink and metal.

One of museum’s Graphic Designers, Brian Suhr, says his favorite painting is “Outside the Moulin Rouge” by Juan Gris.

“It tells a story yet is so simple. The longer I look at it, the more interesting details I notice,” said Suhr.

The exhibit, which opened Feb. 1 and will run until Apr. 26, had a strong start and continues to do well. According to Ciraulo, the exhibit preview alone drew 4000 visitors.

“Since [the exhibit preview], we continue to hear enthusiastic responses – for instance, people love the iconic works, such as Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen’s ‘Tournée du Chat Noir’, because the images feel familiar,” said Ciraulo.

The exhibit has attracted not only Sacramentans, but also visitors from Southern California and beyond. Upon experiencing the exhibit it’s apparent why. Not only does the art reflect a lively era of French art embodying a dynamic period of modernism, but it also steps outside of the abstract.

Bringing the era even more to life, also displayed is a beautiful, green borne (oval sofa) characteristic of the furniture used in theatre lobbies from 1880-1910. A separate room called the “Crocker Cabaret” permits visitors a preview of Paris nightlife with the opportunity to make a Toulouse-Lautrec-personified art piece and to dress up in cabaret costumes with feathers and pearls.

Don’t miss this limited time opportunity to experience Paris in Sacramento. For more information, visit crockerartmuseum.org.

Suhr, also a fan of the Slow Art movement said, “I think it’s important to spend time with work that resonates with you.”

Juan Gris, A l'extérieur du Moulin Rouge, c.1908. Private collection.
Juan Gris, A l’extérieur du Moulin Rouge, c.1908. Private collection.
Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Tournée du Chat Noir, 1896. Stichting Het Kattenkabinet, Amsterdam. Courtesy Crocker Art Museum.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant, 1892. Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels. Courtesy of Crocker Art Museum.
The "Crocket Cabaret" features sitting for guests in front a stage.
The “Crocket Cabaret” features stage-side sitting for guests.
shadow puppets
Parisian shadow puppets allow guests to interact with the period in a fun way


About the author

Liliana Nava

Liliana Nava is a University of California, Davis alumni with a B.A. in Communications and English. She is an aspiring journalist that loves interacting with people, writing, apes, Cosmopolitan and bubbles. She strives to provide readers with the utmost professional, comprehensive and reliable information encompassing the Sacramento region.

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