Van Gogh, Picasso and other greats on display in Frankfurt

Visitors check out the works of art at the "Esprit Montmartre: Bohemian Life in Paris around 1900" exhibit at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. At far left is Ramon Casas' "Interieur d'atelier" from 1883, next to it is Santiago Rusiñol's "Erik Satie, boh'me" from 1891.


By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 10, 2014

FRANKFURT, Germany — One of the must-see art exhibits of the season just opened at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt.

“Esprit Montmartre: Bohemian Life in Paris around 1900” features more than 200 works by 26 artists.

Well-known artists such as Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Amedeo Modigliani and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are represented here, as are some perhaps lesser-knowns such as Louis Anquetin, Ramon Casas, and the only female artists in the exhibit, Marie Laurencin and Suzanne Valadon.

Curator Ingrid Pfeiffer gathered the works for the exhibit, which runs until June 1, from some of the most renowned museums and galleries across the globe: Musée d’Orsay in Paris; the Tate Gallery in London; the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain; the Kunsthaus Zurich; and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The exhibit is divided into sections: “Montmartre as a Village – A View of a Different Paris”; “Cafés, Absinthe Drinkers, and Varietés”; “Models, Dancers, and Prostitutes”; “The Fantasy Land of the Circus”; “The Montmartre as an Area for Outsiders and Social Change”; “The Network of Artists and Art Dealers”; and “The Poster as a New Art Form.”

The era the works encompass is from the mid-1880s to the beginning of World War I.

Probably everyone who has been to Paris has been to Montmartre, the bustling hillside neighborhood with the gleaming white Sacré-Cœur basilica, the tourist-teeming Place du Tetre and the somewhat seedy Pigalle area with the Moulin Rouge cabaret.

At the turn of the last century Montmartre was the underbelly of Paris. It was a hill of sin, full of cabarets, cafes, whores and drunks. The artists came for the cheap rents. The upper class Parisians came for its entertainment and its loose mores. Much of this is reflected in the artists’ work at the exhibit.

The painting featured on the exhibit’s poster and catalog, Louis Anquetin’s “Femme à la voilette,” shows a veiled woman heavily made-up, probably a prostitute.

Another, Alexis Mérodack-Jeanneau’s “Femme à l’absinthe,” shows, as the title suggests, a woman drinking absinthe, the “in” drink at the time.

Many of Théophile-Alexander Steinlen’s works on display depict the poor people of the district, while Giovanni Boldini’s “Scène de fete au Moulin Rouge” shows the upper class partying at the famed cabaret.

An interesting part of the exhibit are the posters, mostly created as advertisements for the nightclubs. A little-known item shown at the exhibit are the clubs’ newspapers, which printed the lyrics to the songs sung at night and were illustrated by artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec.

If you are a fan of the artists, the era or just Montmartre and Paris, this is one exhibit you will not want to miss.


A visitor looks at Louis Anquetin's "La femme à la voilette" at the "Esprit Montmartre: Bohemian Life in Paris around 1900" exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. The painting is also featured on the exhibit's poster and catalog.

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