Lautrec’s graphic posters—for performers, like Jane Avril, or dance halls, like the Moulin Rouge—embody the ebullient, frenetic spirit of the nightlife in fin-de-siècle Paris. Avril, a lifelong friend of the artist, commissioned this print to advertise her cabaret show at the Jardin de Paris in 1893. Lautrec’s bold composition is characterized by a radically skewed perspective, severe cropping, flattened forms, and sinuous lines—such as those describing Avril’s frilly costume. The “cancan” kick of Avril’s leg, one of her signature dance moves, finds a formal echo in the vertical thrust of the double-bass, gripped by an unseen musician. To create this print, Lautrec used several lithographic stones, one for each color—inky black, acidic orange, yellow, and green.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, Albi 1864–1901 Saint-André-du-Bois)