Deanna Wright

The Polk Museum is welcoming “Toulouse-Lautrec and the Belle Époque” exhibit from now until May. 

Toulouse-Lautrec is a well-known artist and master of the Post-Impressionist era. His depictions of life in Paris during the end of the 19th century are still recognized today, with some of those works being illustrations of the 1890s world of entertainment and Bohemianism. 

“Toulouse-Lautrec, in my opinion, represents a vivid time in French history,” sophomore Katie Poinsett said. 

Guests who plan to visit this large exhibit should expect to see extraordinary examples of his inimitable style and artistic output. The exhibit will have more than 230 works, some include Miss May Belfort saluant, La Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine, La Vache Enragée and many more. 

“Not only is this our largest-ever exhibition at the Museum — with more than 230 works occupying our three main galleries — but it is filled with art that will ring familiarity to most of our visitors,” Dr. Alexander Rich said. 

Lautrec made a name for himself in just a decade in turn-of-the-century Paris. 

“He elevated his posters, which served as advertisements to the level of fine art, something seldom seen before,” Poinsett said.  

The odds were against him while he made a name for himself. Those who take time to dive into his story may experience echoes of their own lives or messages about staying true to one’s self no matter what. 

“Not every artist achieves renown in his own lifetime, but in Paris, and specifically in his avant-grade neighborhood of Montmartre, Lautrec was the go-to artist of the moment,” Rich said. 

It is important that at all times they bring a wide array of art, artists, artistic media and artistic eras to their audience which helped the museum decide on this exhibition. With the museum being an academic community museum, it is their responsibility to try to bring world-class artistic and educational experiences to the community. 

“We believe firmly that our audiences come to have fun but also to learn and grow their bases of knowledge in a receptive atmosphere,” Rich said. 

The shop at the museum will also have a few new products for visitors to purchase based on the exhibition. They have brought in books and prints featuring Lautrec’s personal life and his work. 

 “Accessories such as bags, notepads, and greeting cards are adorned with the beloved artist’s work as well as the work of some of his friends and contemporaries,” Assistant Manager of Retail & Visitor Experience Megan Dye said. 

The staff of the museum including Rich and Dr. Kristen Carter, assistant professor of the Art History and Museum Studies, have worked together collaboratively and seamlessly to create this art-viewing experience for the community from Feb. 13 through May 23. Being the museum’s director and chief curator, Rich believes that the team is so dedicated that their installations of this exhibit can be placed against other academic museums. 

“This exhibit was a different kind of art that I’ve never really thought of before,” junior Antoinette Warren said. 

The museum recommends that visitors make reservations in advance to guarantee a space and easy entry as well as to leave any bags in your vehicle when you visit. There will be times that walk-ins will be able to sign up upon arrival if capacity is not full, but social-distancing rules still remain in effect. 


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