Splendeurs & misères, Images de la prostitution, 1850-1910
Catalogues can have a second life, as long as exhibitions travel. That is the case of “Splendeurs et misères” which was exhibited at the musée d’Orsay and now finds itself at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (until 19 June 2016) with another name, just as transparent, “Easy Virtue”. This plunge into the iconography of prostitution in the XIXth century combines well-known works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Félicien-Rops, a few images of fashionable brothels such as le Chabanais, salacious photos of Pierre Louys in action, amusing erotic photomontages, and a small pornographic photo room. But of similar interest are the images that are less allusive such as the games of mirrors and openings in fashion boutiques brilliantly depicted (Tissot or Béraud), or the strong Fauvist scenes by Chabaud or Rippl-Ronai and the never-ending procession of semi-worldly women from famous salons, in carriages or brasseries who took great care of their attire and elegance and never went out without their hat, veil and gold chain.
Review published in the newsletter #425 - from 7 April 2016 to 13 April 2016