ACT News


A touch of Paris for the capital

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was always fond of the spotlight.

Whether the high life of 19th century French theatre or the low life of brothels, nightclubs and bars, Toulouse-Lautrec had an uncanny ability to shine his own spotlight on the very heart of Parisian culture and faithfully reflect it through his stunning works.

The National Gallery of Australia is now tantalisingly close to unveiling its latest blockbuster exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge. The exhibition, featuring more than 100 paintings, posters, prints and drawings, will officially open to the public on Friday.

The Canberra Times was given a sneak peek inside the gallery where some of the precious works are still being acclimatised and unpacked.

The sense of anticipation was palpable on Monday as senior curator Jane Kinsman oversaw the spacing measurements for the last batch of paintings.

The logistics of getting the exhibit to this stage have been immense.


The works were sourced from 31 public and private collections across the world.

Each collection attaches its own set of special arrangements and limitations dictating how its works can be used, and sends its own team of art couriers, who oversee the placement of the art in the gallery.

The works have come in instalments, starting with the French- and German-held pieces, moving onto the English, and finally the American.

''It's quite a bit of work,'' said Dr Kinsman.

''It's really a wall-to-wall process, so they'll take the works off their wall, bring them by plane to Australia, and then they oversee us putting the works on our wall.'' The works trace Toulouse-Lautrec's career from the very beginning, and all reveal his fabulous ability to capture the essence of French society.

''The world that he depicts is fascinating,'' Dr Kinsman said.

''It's not stuffy portraits, or anything like that. It's really about the nightlife, the haunts and the cafes, and the street life of Paris.''

The exhibition will run to April 2 next year.

Tickets are $25 for adults, and are available at the gallery's front desk or through Ticketek.