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Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne : Paris 1880-1910



This extraordinary exhibition highlights the wide spectrum of exciting work created by avant-garde artists in Paris around the turn of the twentieth century. Through dreamy Symbolist landscape paintings, edgy Parisian street scenes, intimate domestic tableaux, bawdy cabaret sketches, figure studies, portraits and still life compositions, it investigates a generation of artists continuing the battle against French Academic standards fought by the Impressionists and the Barbizon painters before them. A special focus is the intoxicating gathering of artists, writers, performers, and musicians in Montmartre, where everyone form Toulouse-Lautrec – whose style and subjects epitomize the times – to Sarah Bernhardt and Paul Verlaine worked amid the swirl of café-concerts, circuses, and theatres. The show is alive with a variety of both image and media. In addition to paintings and drawings, the exhibition includes journals, theatre posters and programs designed by Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard, among others, as well as rare, zinc cut-out silhouettes used in avant-garde shadow-theatre productions at the Chat Noir cabaret.

The exhibition traces the important 30 year period of modern French art at the turn of the century, from the “fin-de-siecle” through to “The Belle Epoque”, a time when Parisian art was multi-faceted with varied approaches to the idea of being “modern.” Breaking with tradition, some artists explored expressive means in line, colour and form to depict daily life, while others used abstract styles to negate naturalism ad suggest underlying universal symbols.

This exhibition investigates “the variety of ways that the broad spectrum of avant-garde artists (beyond those artists associated with the movements of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism) defined their art as “Modern” during this rich period of artistic experimentation.” With Toulouse-Lautrec as its focus and featuring the work of a generation of his contemporaries, this exhibition puts the art of famous Impressionists and Post Impressionists into context. It is also celebrates the variety of means that turn of the century artists put to use to publicize their work: illustrated journals, books, posters and theatre programs.

This groundbreaking exhibition is comprised of approximately 185 works. Included are paintings, watercolors and drawings; rare zinc shadow puppet silhouettes; illustrated programs for the famous Chat Noir cabaret shadow Theatres, circuses, cabarets and café-concerts documenting the activities of avant-garde artists.

Organized by
  • Art Gallery of Alberta


Monday: closed
Tuesday: 11 am-5 pm
Wednesday: 11 am-5 pm
Thursday: 11 am-8 pm
Friday: 11 am-5 pm
Saturday: 11 am-5 pm
Sunday: 11 am-5 pm


Every Thursday 5-8 pm - FREE

AGA members
Youth 0-17
Alberta students 18+
Out-of-province students
General admission
Seniors 65+


2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 2C1