Sunday, September 4, 2011

Toulouse Lautrec, Moulin Rouge & Art Nouveau

In Albi, France, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec was born an aristocrat in 1864.  Among aristocrats, it was common to inbreed to keep their bloodline pure especially in this time period.  This factored into Toulouse Lautrec's poor health throughout his life and his inability to heal. Both of his legs were broken by his 15th birthday and stunted his already slow growth.  Due to his health issues while growing up, he turned to art as his entertainment.  He quickly developed his skills and his fascination for art continued into his adulthood.  Known for being the "little one" while growing up, Toulouse Lautrec had more than a little spirit.  He was lively, fun, and constantly "searching for the present moment."  He would dress up and was really interested in posing for trip photography.

Attracting his attention along his road of adventure, Montmartre caught his attention, where the Bohemian lifestyle was a common alternative to tradition.  Alcohol, ladies of the night, and the Moulin Rouge life consumed most of his time and is consistently seen throughout his works.  He was a painter by day, a sketcher by night.  He would go to places like the Moulin Rouge and sketch as much as he could so he had sketches to reference for his paintings the next day.  Along with the alcohol and other influences, another main source of inspiration came from Japanese art prints.  Him, as well as Van Gogh, had a nice collection of these Japanese prints.  He continued on this path until the end of his short life.

Moulin Rouge has an interesting twist on what seems to be the lifestyle of Toulouse Latrec.  In its accuracy, it manages to keep what little information included correct yet presented in a unique and enjoyable way.  The documentary we watched in class is also interesting, but more informative and serious.  I feel both have their pros and cons.  Although Moulin Rouge is a more visually appealing and artistic way of showing the information, the documentary gives a darker and more realistic side to Toulouse Latrec's life. The music, lighting, and wardrobe are all large differences in setting the tones of both videos.  Moulin Rouge has more dramatic music, dramatic lighting, and awkward and weird clothing whereas the documentary has instrumental music, a more typical light setting, and clothing of the time period.

If I were to make a movie with Art Nouveau in mind, I would try to have a combination of both Moulin Rouge and a documentary.  I would try to have furniture and decorations of the Art Nouveau style.  The staircases would look curvilinear and flattering.  The furniture would have no edges and be rounded.  The chandeliers would have the same qualities.  Every scene in the movie would consist of Art Nouveau objects.  The music would even have circular sounds; harsh, abrupt, and sharp sounds would not exist in the movie.  This would be the same for the light.  The light would not be harsh, but soft and inviting, just like Art Nouveau.  The actors would even be dressed in rounded garments.  This all sounds over the top, but if it is - it contains the essence of Art Nouveau.  It would be a lesson as well as a fun movie to watch.  Dr. Seuss' videos are over the top and contain the essence of Dr. Seuss himself.  That is what my Art Nouveau movie would be like and memorable. 

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