Los Angeles

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Pomona College Gallery

Fifty-five lithographs and drawings from a single anonymous collection form this hundredth anniver­sary celebration of the birth of the “little monster.”

As the group is comprised of the miscellany of menus, advertising post­ers, sheet music, book and review il­lustrations, and smaller portfolios, but for La Goulue and Debauch, all are unfamiliar to the non-specialist viewer. It is a fine treat to see these rarer, if minor, items. They range from the merest caricature to sketches and finished drawings and convey as broad a field of attitudes. The outstanding mood is a serious, sharply-honed ob­servation. Where there is humor it ex­tends from evil to burlesque. Empathy between artist and model, Lautrec’s precocious Classical background, and Art Nouveau developments course through every mark.

And what a choice group of subjects parade and posture in this decadent demi-monde. There are the sly, the humble, the sophisticated, hungry, con­ceited, foolish, wistful, preposterous; clowns, dancers, singers, transvestites, drunkards, and assorted eccentrics. Re­gardless of their role or condition Lau­tree stylized their figures, features, and attitudes to an ennobling elegance—sometimes too sweet, more often too sour, but ever elegant.

As Rowlandson, Hogarth, Goya, Dau­mier, and Lautrec prove, such charac­teristic natures can be found in any time and place, requiring only a thoughtful or bitter wit and a pointed tool to formulate such records and commentaries. And for this role Lautrec was aptly suited, the notations, con­summate.

––Fidel A. Danieli