The Japanese love Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). His art is lively and interesting, and strong Japanese influences can be detected in it. The current exhibition at the Tobu Museum of Art makes much of this mutual admiration, with the French artist’s work revealing his love for Japan while the museum treats his art like an honored guest in this, the 100th year since his death.
Sometimes this reverence spills over into fetishism as several of his unfinished sketches are packaged like completed works of art. A rudimentary scribble of elephants receding toward a pagoda has not only been stamped with Lautrec’s monogram and framed, but its childish elephant shape has found its way into the souvenir shop in the form of a mobile-phone strap!
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