Congratulations! Toulouse-Lautrec Poster Contest Winners

Our judges were blown away by the quality and variety of submissions to our Toulouse-Lautrec poster contest! We asked participants to show us what the belle époque of today is in a modern-day poster, using Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque as inspiration. Without further ado: here are the winners! Thanks to everyone who submitted. These five posters, along with a selection of staff favorites, will be on view at Phillips after 5 on April 6.


Grand Prize Winning submission by Carolyn Wright

“As an untrained artist who really only went to school to learn how to teach others about words and stories, any foray into art is an experiment for me. Toulouse-Lautrec’s work is as accessible for me as it was for Paris.  Like Toulouse-Lautrec, I’m drawn most to capturing people: their expressions and their reactions to the world around them, showcasing movement and joy when I can. I love to showcase the resilience and talent of youth the most, probably because the majority of my day is spent convincing children that their potential is infinite and their skills extraordinary. I used cut paper and brush tip pens to put a modern spin on Toulouse-Lautrec’s signature style.”

Feigenbaum.Sam_La Marche Des Femmes

Honorable Mention: Sam Feigenbaum

“What I’ve always loved about Toulouse-Lautrec was his deeply humanizing affectation towards the private lives of the women close to him. All over Europe, artists of great renown are painting women as high-class objects of desire, and here is Toulouse-Lautrec: painting low-class objects of desire as women. And while his lithographs are more conservative than his paintings, what I see Toulouse-Lautrec drawn to today is a curiosity with what the most resilient women in his life would’ve been drawn to. So I made a poster, with deference to the greatly talented artist, of a women’s march movement in his style.”


Honorable Mention: Victoria Chao

“Paying homage to the whimsy of Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters’ typography and the drama of his subjects’ clothing, this piece envisions the belle époque of today as a social media fueled era of experience-seeking over material-possessing. A musician stands onstage surrounded by a sea of flashing smartphones, posed similarly as Toulouse-Lautrec did in many of his posters—slightly off-center with movement in both the foreground and background, but with the focus always on the colorful subject.”

Venne.Daniel_Lautrec Poster

Honorable Mention: Daniel Venne

“This poster design is an update of Toulouse-Lautrec’s images of dance halls and night-time gathering spots. Rather than a depiction of a specific nightclub, this is for the ‘bar crawls’ that partiers enjoy—specifically one that might take place in Dupont, home of The Phillips Collection. The young woman’s head-wrap is a nod to the scarf worn by the performer Aristide Bruant in Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters. Although today’s nightclubs are less likely to have a real star appear, the two partiers in the background seem to see themselves as stars—taking a selfie.”

Breighner.Steve_Apres 5 v1

Honorable Mention: Stephen Breighner

HONORABLE MENTION: Stephen Breighner
“[My poster is done in the loose style] that was Toulouse-Lautrec’s style; vague in some respects yet tight in others, especially the women, great lines, great  impressions amidst unusually odd-colored backgrounds, such as  greenish-yellow or yellow. I wonder if it represented the atmosphere he felt in places such as the Moulin Rouge or was more to do with an absinthe-induced haze, or both. Heavy contrast as well. My entry depicts a young woman on her way into the Apres Five at The Phillips Collection with the date of the April edition.”

How “Drawing Paintings” Destroy an Artistic Hierarchy

“‘Drawing Paintings’ are something that were a reaction to the hierarchy that supposedly exists between drawing and painting. What I wanted to do was combine the two of them and make drawing and painting the same level [so] that there was no real difference.” Artist George Condo introduces his installation The Way I Think, on view through June 25, 2017.

“But seriously…can you name 5 women artists?” Women In Front of and Behind the Lens

Jane Avril (1893)_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril, 1893. Brush and spatter lithograph, printed in five colors. Key stone printed in olive green, color stones in yellow, orange, red, and black on wove paper, 48 13⁄16 × 36 in. Private collection

I posed the question to a friend over the phone, eager to hear his response. Here at The Phillips, we’ve had a lot of fun celebrating Women’s History Month. The National Museum of Women in the Arts surfaced #5WomenArtists last year, and people everywhere followed suit. This trend is meant to introduce the same question I asked my friend to lovers of art: Can you, even the most enthusiastic museum-goer, name five women artists? My friend certainly struggled to answer the question. Some of his answers required hints from me, others were names of works which he could recall, but not artists. He eventually got to five and even named a sixth, then insisting that he likely could not name five male artists either. I heard a pause over the phone. “Actually, I probably could.”

The National Endowment for the Arts reports that 51% of visual artists working today are women. But according to The Guardian, a mere 3 to 5% of artworks in permanent collections of major American museums are by female artists. Understanding the statistic requires an understanding of the culture which has always surrounded it. In part, we must look at how male artists interacted with their female counterparts throughout history. Recently at the Phillips, we have had much to celebrate with the opening of Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque. Toulouse-Lautrec’s fame resided largely in his depictions of French starlets like Jane Avril and Yvette Guilbert. The subjects of his works were primarily women, and for a period of time Lautrec resided in a French brothel. A product of his time there was his album Elles; visual interpretations of the daily lives of prostitutes. The prints, four of which are presently on view at the Phillips, barely depict the presence of male figures, instead focusing non-judgmentally on the quiet, private moments of these women’s lives. A publisher of erotic magazines and prints, Gustave Pellet, published Elles in the spring of 1896, placing the sale price higher than any of Toulouse-Lautrec’s previous work. To male buyers, however, the publication was an unsexy flop, as one critic wrote, “The meaning of the work is still unclear to us; the desired effect cannot be seen. He portrayed vice, but not because he was attracted to it, since he avoided the obscene details.”

The point here is clear; even work by an accomplished male artist attempting to humanize women was once seen as utterly undesirable. Along with museums all over the world, The Phillips Collection will challenge visitors this month to name five women artists, to learn about their accomplishments, and to celebrate their work! The topic of female celebrity, power, and the public gaze in Toulouse-Lautrec’s work was the focal point of a recent Open Conversation we held in the galleries, led by Cristen Conger. Watch the video and let us know your thoughts!

Elizabeth Federici, Marketing & Communications Intern