MOBA Art Too Bad To Be Ignored
 
 

The Last Dance
 
     

The Last Dance

Unknown – possibly Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
60" x 60" , oil on canvas
Anonymous donation
MOBA catalog #449

This may be a late work by iconoclastic French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The painting features his trademark subject of the Moulin Rouge dancer in her feathered head-piece and colorful dress. With a stylized Montmartre and the white domed Basilica of Sacre Coeur in the background surrounded by the lights of the rich music hall scene, the artist captures that agonizing moment when an aging cancan dancer removes her dance shoes for the last time. In her turned head and sorrowful expression the artist depicts the inner pain and deep sense of loss that the subject feels in this final act as a dancer. The green tint of her skin symbolizes the envy she feels for the young girl she imagines taking her place on stage.
“The Last Dance” is not only a candid glimpse into the sadness at the end of the dancer’s time in the spotlight but a personal admission to the fast approaching end of this unique artist’s own career. He paints not in his trademark poster style, but borrows heavily from his contemporary and yet unknown Vincent van Gogh with heavy unblended brush strokes and from the younger Wassily Kandinsky with swirling color that foreshadows the new modern abstract movement that will follow Lautrec’s death. On his deathbed he is rumored to have spoken these immortal words, “La vie est trop courte” ("life is too short") as statement on his imminent death and a personal joke about his stature.



Interpretated by Bob Sepulveda, Seattle, WA

 

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