In the 1890s Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was one of a group of young avant-garde artists whose color lithography was a vehicle for innovative printmaking. Lautrec eventually established himself as the premier poster artist of Paris and was often commissioned to advertise famous performers in his prints.
Today we have for you one of these famous prints:
Aristide Bruant was a French cabaret singer, comedian, and nightclub owner. He always wore his wide-brimmed hat, red scarf, bulky cape, and tall boots when singing in a harsh voice of the violence and poverty in a Paris most of his audience never saw. This poster, commissioned by Bruant, is one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s most dramatic. The artist condensed the personality into three bold shapes symbolic of Bruant himself—black cape, red scarf, and black hat.
Bruant began performing at cafe-concerts and developed a singing and comedy act that led to his being signed to appear at the Le Chat Noir club. He soon became a star of Montmartre, and when Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec began showing up at the cabarets and clubs, Bruant became one of the artist’s first friends was featured on certain famous posters by Lautrec.
Lautrec designed a sparse yet iconic image that promoted both the performer’s career as well as his own. As a At the end, we have for you something unique – Bruant’s voice. Here you can hear Aristide singing, on a record from 1912: