Populated by French location footage, sketches, interviews with scholars and curators, and paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, “Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre” is akin to a tour through an art gallery by a well-learned curator who knows anything and everything about an artist. The National Gallery of Art produced this brief look at Toulouse-Lautrec’s life and his association and fascination with Montmartre and their culture. They have something going on here which is not only advantageous to those scholars looking for a wealth of information, but also to those who want a look at Toulouse-Lautrec beyond Mel Ferrer in the 1952 “Moulin Rouge” and John Leguizamo in 2001’s “Moulin Rouge”.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s subjects were wide and varied. From the dance halls where nightly pleasures were had by the upper classes to the grand and energetic circuses, to the brothels of Montmartre, he had an eye for the previously unexposed, a way to reach into them that was unseen by other artists, a type of psychology, looking beyond the surface and finding more than just the dance dresses on women and makeup on clowns. “Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre” accentuates this and gives details that make this a well-rounded look at Lautrec.
However, the National Gallery of Art needs to consider a new way to bring more art exposure to the world. This DVD should be one of many to profile various artists. With the way the DVD format has exploded, this is a perfect time not only to bring these artists to more people than just museum patrons, but also to include so much more such as photographs, prints of paintings and other artworks, and even liner notes by professors and other experts. There is a distinct advantage here.