La Goulue: An Artist and Designer’s Inspiration

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was bohemian to the bone, which suited the lifestyle he enjoyed in Paris excellently. And it showed. It was here that the sickly character flourished.

Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to produce a series of posters for the opening of a grand dance hall in Paris: the Moulin Rouge. Other artists and contemporaries did not value his highly but apparently he remained unfazed by their criticisms (a lifetime of bullying about his short stature would surely toughen you up!). On producing the designs for the Moulin Rouge, they had a seat reserved for him exclusively as well as exhibited his paintings on the premises.

In his relatively short life Toulouse-Lautrec racked up an impressive portfolio of work, in excess of seven-hundred canvases, two-hundred watercolours and three-hundred print and posters. Among some of his most famous pieces the painting ‘At the Moulin Rouge (c.1892-1895)’ stood out. This painting is one of a series of paintings depicting the famous dance-hall, which contains La Goulue a recurring character. She appears in many of his paintings even appearing in some of his poster designs.

Two examples of the alluring ‘La Goulue’ appearing in Toulouse-Lautrec’s work high-light his flexibility in disciplines. La Goulue was actually her nickname, which translates to ‘The Glutton’, a name she earned from her ability to outdrink all the men there. In one, the young ‘Goulue’ is seen as she is ushered into the Moulin Rouge. Toulouse-Lautrec’s style reflects the Impressionist fashion. The style is also reflective of Manet, one of the great Impressionists, especially his portrait ‘At the Moulin Rouge’ which is suspiciously similar to Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies Bergere’. The colours are bright, and the shapes are bold. The bohemian style is truly captured as the dancers walk past,  slightly blurred but full of dynamics.

Graphic Designer or Fine Artists? Why not both?

(Images sourced from Wikipedia)


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