Toulouse-Lautrec cast an aristocratic eye upon Paris low life in the '90s. The record of what this eye selected to see will always remain one of the most piquant and arresting in the history of art. A dwarf himself, and latterly an alcoholic, Lautrec looked unsentimentally at the moral and physical deformities of his fellow beings. He accepted with a kind of detached sympathy the sordid life of the prostitute. He enjoyed the garish vulgarity of the music hall and delighted in the dash and humor of the circus.
We may romanticize his personal life and the life he depicted. The point is, he never romanticized himself or the world about him. This is what gives his astonishing hand and eye their power and penetration and gives to his art a significance and a value above and beyond its popular, documentary appeal.
This exhibition has been derived in large part from the one recently organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago. Some paintings and drawings in the latter show were, unfortunately, not available for ours. On the other hand, certain important paintings, drawings, and lithographs in the present exhibition were not shown in Philadelphia or Chicago, and many of these are here reproduced, together with a selection of works previously reproduced in the Philadelphia-Chicago catalog.
For their generous assistance in the preparation of the exhibition I wish to express, on behalf of the Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art, my gratitude to the following: the lenders who have made the exhibition possible and whose names appear on page 45; Henry Clifford, Curator of Painting of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and organizer of his museum's exhibition; Henri Marceau, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Daniel Catton Rich, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago; Peter J. Pollack, Public Relations Counsel of the Art Institute of Chicago; Ludwig Charell for his advice and for lending a majority of the lithographs and posters; Miss Lelia Wittler of M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., Paul Rosenberg, Georges Wildenstein and John Rewald for help in locating pictures or securing loans.
I am particularly grateful to William S. Lieberman, Curator of Prints, Museum of Modern Art, who has been responsible for the selection of lithographs and posters in the exhibition; to Daniel Brenner for his imaginative installation of the exhibition; to Mrs. Anne Dahlgren Hecht, who has been responsible for the chronology and the preparation of the catalog; to Miss Alicia Legg of the Department of Painting and Sculpture for secretarial work throughout; and finally, and by no means least, to Miss Frances Pernas, who has seen this publication through the press.
ANDREW CARNDUFF RITCHIE
Director, Department of Painting and Sculpture
© 1956. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 56: 9244