Short Subject

In this way, viewers may opt to exit the show through "Lautrec's Posters," or they can move on to three intimately scaled galleries. The first focuses on "Lautrec's Preoccupations," his self-portraits as small dogs and sad clowns. Then comes "The Artist at Work," in which Frey places Toulouse-Lautrec's preliminary drawings next to the very different finished posters. And finally, the R-rated room, painted whorehouse pink and dubbed "The Private Lives of Prostitutes." This area houses some of the exhibit's most beautiful prints, in particular the dozen lithographs from the "Elles" portfolio. Although their topic is racy, the prints themselves are anything but erotic and instead focus on the hardships of the oldest profession.

Frey's intelligent, multi-faceted approach to both the artist and the exhibit devoted to him clears up many misconceptions about this pioneer in the development of the modern poster. In the process, she also exposes Toulouse-Lautrec as a vulnerable human being with great empathy for the suffering of others--not the first thought that comes to mind when you encounter his high-spirited graphics.

Toulouse-Lautrec From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through July 4 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue, for tickets, call 1-888-903-0278.

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