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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Playing the hand you are dealt

The past two summers I've made long excursions to spend some time with Toulouse Lautrec. I've always loved his work and really paid little attention to the story behind the work until last summer. Students murmered about his affection for prostitues and show girls as well as his afflictions which all work to sell his story but without the whole story it's just sensational

I didn't know that Toulouse's parents were first cousins and that his afflictions were caused by a genetic disease. He died in his early 30's in his mother's home in southwest France. She was very devoted to him and donated his estate to a museum in Albi which has the largest collection of his work anywhere. A writer friend with a background in medicine suggested that many of his health problems sounded more like the result of his mother being infected with syphillis than anything else. Said writer also said that prostitutes were common methods of birth control at that time and wives were often victims of their husband's indiscretions.

What bothered me about this conversation is that everyone wanted to talk about Toulouse's scandalous family and no one had much commentary on his painting or brilliant work as a printmaker. Art is work. Painting and printmaking is toxic, back breaking work for anyone - but much harder for someone lacking physical strength. Such endeavor requires faith and passion that can fade so easily even in the best of circumstances. Lautrec's work was vibrant, provocative, sexy and REAL. Its is an unflinching view into a world that is long gone.

If only...

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Here and There

Lessons learned. Experience not necessary. A willingness to problem solve required as well as a tolerance for people who have imaginary chips on their shoulders.