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Hyde displays van Gogh work
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Dutch, Orchard with Arles in the Background, 1888, reed pen, pen, ink, and graphite on laid paper, Bequest of Charlotte Pruyn Hyde, 1971.81.

GLENS FALLS, NY.- When Vincent van Gogh met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Paris in 1886, the friends defied convention, challenging the established definition of art. Their idiosyncratic focus on line and color is displayed in Deux Enfants Terribles, an exhibition from the permanent collection in the Rotunda Gallery at The Hyde Collection.

The exhibition includes van Gogh's Orchard with Arles in the Background, The Hyde’s only work by the Dutch artist. Van Gogh employed a variety of pen strokes to imbue the scene with a sense of spring’s arrival in a dormant Mediterranean fruit orchard. A few dots from a reed pen indicate the first appearance of buds. Below, the grass, rendered in short vertical strokes begins to grow again; pinwheel strokes denote the flowering of dandelions.

Believing that art should convey emotion, and driven to instill his work with his own presence, van Gogh invested this drawing with his own excitement at spring’s revitalizing influence on him after several years in hectic, urbanized Paris. That an artist sought to be so personal, so revelatory through his art was highly unconventional and controversial at the time. Van Gogh’s increasing emotional and psychological instability—1888 ended with the famous incident of his slicing off part of his ear—scandalized society.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec frequently defended van Gogh from such criticisms. The aristocratic Lautrec himself scandalized society with his brazen flouting of social conventions. He lived an openly Bohemian life in the Montmatre district of Paris. He enjoyed the modern pleasures of living in urban Paris. He consorted with actresses, dancers, shop girls, and prostitutes.

Six prints by Lautrec examine his embrace of modern urban culture and the opportunities it afforded an artist. Lautrec was one of the first to exploit the new medium of advertising prints. Before the advent of paper confetti, promoted in Lautrec’s bright advertisement from 1894, celebrants threw seeds and grains. The poster’s bright colors, diagonal perspective, and cropped figures derive from Japanese prints.

Social norms were under pressure. In particular, women gained greater independence and freedom. Working-class girls found jobs away from parental control in shops, where they caught the eye of wealthy men, as Lautrec records in the cover for sheet music entitled La Petite Trottin (The Dressmaker’s Little Errand Girl). Female actresses became well-known personalities in their own right as recorded in several prints in the exhibition depicting Louise Balthy and Yvette Guilbert, both friends of Lautrec.

The exhibition is timed to coincide with the Adirondack Film Festival, which takes place at venues throughout downtown Glens Falls the weekend of October 20. A fully painted animated feature, Loving Vincent, will be screened at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm Saturday, October 21, in The Hyde's Froehlich Auditorium. Each showing includes a question-and-answer session with Ryan Chapman, one of the film's artists.

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