Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was the quintessential late-19th-century artist. He was born into an aristocratic family, started drawing as a youngster, then moved to Paris and slummed around Montmartre. Of course, he had the requisite tragic flaw: his parents were first cousins (aristocrats of the day often married within the family to preserve their fortunes) and the inbreeding caused him to have weak bones. He grew to adulthood with a normal-sized torso but midget legs. This only intensified his passion. While churning out drawings and paintings that depicted brothels, circuses, and nightclubs, Toulouse-Lautrec became a hardcore alcoholic, slept with his muse, and contracted syphilis. But one thing distinguished Mr. T-L from Pariss other hard-drinking, STD-carrying geniuses of the day. He not only knew where the party was at; he knew where the money was at -- in advertising. He was commissioned to create posters for the Moulin Rouge, a famous club called the Chat Noir, and various celebrity performers all before photography was commonplace. Instead of dying unknown and penniless, he was as famous as the stars and places he depicted. See how fine art and mass media intersected in the exhibit Toulouse-Lautrec and his Contemporaries: the Art of the Poster at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, which opens Wednesday, January 11 and runs through April 2. Call 561-392-2500.
Jan. 11-April 2