Skip to main content

tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  March 11, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

3:00 pm
(narrator) toward the end of the first millennium b.c., a complex society sprang to life in mesoamerica-- imaginative, literate, philosophically-inclined and sophisticated. evevi cture out of the primordial forest and sunk its roots into the soil. today, we know the region by its countries-- mexico honduras el salvador, belize and guatemala. but long ago it was the world of the maya. not an empire, nor a country the classic maya culture flourished from the third to the ninth century in a far flung collection of city-states.
3:01 pm
at palenque, tonina bonampak and other cities, dynastic kings ruled absolutely, controlling trade and tribute. they presided over intricate hierarchies of nobles and officials at courts resplendent with works of art. maya culture, shrouded in a mystery as dense as the forests in which it took root, revealed itself fitfully over three centuries. when the ruins in the jungle were first discovered, there was no way of understanding how the civilization was organized. so it's really through the inscriptions that we've been able to identify kings
3:02 pm
to find out their capitals their seats of power. and through this we recognize now that there were many kingdoms. there was no unified maya state. there wasn't even just a few states. there were many, many states. (narrator) the first inroads into understanding the maya were made by spanish missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries who followed in the imperial wake of hernan cortes. their "discoveries" included the ruins at copan. but interest in the st civilization began to accelerate in the 18th century when father antonio de solis traveled to palenque and other maya sites. his accounts of the ruins of the once great civilization caught the attention of the king of spain. wave after wave of spanish explorers came to mexico sending reports and sketches back to madrid. the grandeur of what remained at palenque
3:03 pm
convinced one of the king's emissaries, antonio del rio, that what he saw was the result of contact with the ancient romans. del rio's reports were published in 1822 with illustrations by jean-frederic waldeck, who also documented the ancient maya ruins at palenque. he made watercolor drawings of the architecture, landscape, and sculpted reliefs. in trying to make sense of the puzzling details waeck often made none ofhe- o inse sertg eps a hieroglyicanel. the another pair of travelers began to wrestle with the riddle of the ancient maya. the englhman erick cathod through his drings roh s in
3:04 pm
captured the attention of the general public in the 1840s with their studies of ancient mexico and central america. (john stephens) we lived in the ruined palace of their kings we went up to their desolate temples and fallen altars, and wherever we moved we saw the evidences of their taste their skill in arts, their wealth, and power. in the midst of desolation and ruin we looked back to the past cleared away the gloomy forest and fancied every building perfect, with its sculptured and painted ornaments, lofty and imposing. (narrator) the late 19th century brought new visitors with new technologies to palenque. the british photographer alfred maudslay arrived in palenque in 1890 and took some of the earliest surviving pictures of the ruins. the photographs and reports of explorers
3:05 pm
like maudslay and his edes la gdw a w line maya studies. one of the first breakthroughs in understanding the ancient maya was the decoding of their calendar and complex records of planetary movements and eclipses. well, the maya calendar is one of the most complicated aspects about maya civilization. there actually are several kinds of calendars. there are ones that are a cycle of 260 days, there's a cycle of 365 days, which is like a year. and then there is this grand calendar of infinite time-- it's a linear system. we see that the calendar is a reflection of their cosmology. it's the world order very much like any calendar system. it's anchored in the stars. it's anchored in the planets. but for the maya it's beyond that.
3:06 pm
it's really a reflection of the way they structured the order of the universe. (narrator) a new vision of the maya began to emerge. (david stuart) scholars got from this this idea that the maya were obsessed with time and that's really all they wanted to record. but they weren't just recording time, of course, they were using it to express all of these other things. they wanted to anchor their history, their kings and their wars and records of these things in cosmology. so this image of the stargazing maya, the priest astronomers obsessed with time, this is a bit of a false image. (narrator) in 1946, the photographer giles healey went to chiapas to make a film about the lacandon indians. they led him to a group of temples perched atop ruined pyramids at bonampak. the interior of the largest building on the site was sheathed in wall paintings
3:07 pm
that shattered the peaceful image of the maya. (mary miller) when they came to light in forties at that moment everyone had thought that, "oh, the maya had lived in a time of peace. they were people of enormous decorum and personal reserve." and suddenly, when these paintings emerged on the scene and you could see that they were, in some ways, intimate portraits of life at court... but most of all that there was warfare. (narrator) in 1952, a second discovery, this time at palenque, further changed modern conceptions of the maya. mexican archaeologist berto z uncovered a tomb buried deep within the temple of inscriptions. a crypt cut deep into the bedrock beneath the pyramid contained a sarcophagus. (mary miller) i think we can imagine his heirs bringing him up here wrapped in a shroud, taking him all the way down through those 13 vaults, down into that incredible chamber,
3:08 pm
setting him into the sarcophagus, putting the stone on place making all the offerings seing the doorway, sacrificial victims, a kind of silence for all time. (narrator) rubble filled the eighty-foot interior staircase. when alberto ruz finally reached the tomb whicok his tm four years to eavate, he found the skeleton of a man. his corpse had been adorned with jade jewelry and a mosaic mask of jade, shell, and obsidian. whose tomb was this? when was he buried? the answer lay in the undeciphered inscriptions. the enigmatic hieroglyphs, the written language of the maya, had eluded and intrigued scholars since the 16th century. missionaries like diego de landa
3:09 pm
trietok witha eret the hrogl was t first ttry late tm with the spani alphabet. (david stuart) it was a fundamental misunderstanding of what mariting is cause the maya never used an alphabet. landa only knew alphabets-- that's all that he could really imagine writing could be. and so he wrote down an a, b, c but he was writing down signs that made no sense as an alphabet. the glyphs were associated with maya religion directly. he saw thelyphs as a reflection of that idolatry that had to be destroyed. and so he's very famous, for gathering together these... these manuscripts and having a bonfire-- destroying them all. (narrator) only three or four codices survived-- manuscripts made from the bark of fig trees. cracking the maya code has been a long and painstaking process. scholars gradually have identified sentence structures
3:10 pm
and realized that the mayan language was far more sophisticated than any other mesoamerican language. it's a complex system based on more than 500 hieroglyphs. it has sentences. it has verbs. it has adjectives. just like any other language. and deciphering the individual sounds eventually has allowed us to read whole texts. (narrator) those texts have revealed the political history of palenque and the identity of the maya king buried in the temple of inscriptions. it was pakal who took the throne at the age of 12 and ruled for 70 years until his death in 683. palenque's greatest king pakal founded a dynasty that would rule the kingdom until it fell apart in the ninth century. sculpted portraits show him as both a young man and in old age. previous portraits of maya rulers
3:11 pm
conveyed power rather than individuality. under pakal portraiture became more naturalistic. pakal transformed palenque into one of the most impressive maya cities-- with monumental temples and a new royal palace. the maya loved to paint. they loved to paint on stucco. they loved to paint directly on stone monuments. we see them today stripped of all their paint. yet there is hardly a stone monument that wasn't painted in bright colors, sometimes just with a coat of red like some of the sculptures that have recently been excavated at palenque. (narrator) palenque's grandeur was underpned by an aggressive foreign policy. a reception hall built in 661 carries an inscription running
3:12 pm
from riser to tread recounting palenque's battles against calakmul a large kingdom to the northeast. relief sculptures of captives flank the stairways. palenque and calakmul vied for control of the rich fertile tabasco plain that stretched north from palenque toward the gulf of mexico. when the kings of palenque sat in the palace and looked out across the tabasco plain all the way to the gulf of mexico it was the region that they dominated. and from that region, they were able to collect cotton and cacao, two principal sources of wealth. (narrator) pakal died in 683 and was succeeded by his oldest son kan bahlam-- his name means snake jaguar-- who reigned until 702. he continued to expand the glory of palenque.
3:13 pm
there is no other place where we find, for example the use of parallel corbels as early as we see them here. and one of the things that this does is make the buildings inherently more stable. these buildings have stood the test of time better than at almost any other site because of the kind of engineering knowledge that the maya used. arrator) kan bahlam built three major temples-- the temple of the oss, the temple of the sun, and the temple of the foliated cross-- dedicated in 692 to palenque's patron deities. e palace was expanded further during the reign of kan bahlam's younger brother, k'an hoy chitam in the first years of the eighth century. he added new wings and a public facade facing the vast plain that stretches toward the gulf of mexico. the innovative engineering featured curving ogival arches that reduced the weight of the roof.
3:14 pm
clay figurines from other ancient maya sites give a sense of the king's retinue that once populated the palace. priests and nobles singers and entertainers even messengers and servants. dwarves and hunchbacks were thought to herald special powers of benefit to the ruler. paintings on vases and cups portray the king gazing at himself in a mirror held by a dwarf. mirrors were thought to have magicaprer and were used to divine the future. those vases, and the painted cups used to serve a chili-laden chocolate drink enjoyed by the maya elite, offer glimpses of life at the maya court. rulers, bedecked in jewels receive tribute in the form of folded bolts of cloth
3:15 pm
or sacks of cacao beans. they ruled from thrones covered with jaguar pelts. maya kinorrated the guar into their imagery as a symbol of their power. at palenque, residences for the nobility were built east of the palace stretching downstream across the otolum river. they included places of ritual cleansing, ancestral shrines, and courtyards for community gatherings. the ranks of the nobility supplied the scribes a reflection of the importance of literacy to the maya. scribes were necessarily artists because of the pictoal quality of mayan hieroglhs w scribes had a very important social function. they weren't just the storytellers. they were people who recorded tribute and deliveries of goods and the whole workings of societies. and for that reason, writing was integral
3:16 pm
to the functioning of a royal palace. (narrator) the noble households contained works of art including incense burners-- incensarios-- often bearing portraits of deceased relatives and deities. maya kings styled themselves as gods, as their divine representatives onarth. the crucial importance of corn the staff of life throughout mesoamerica, led to depictions of nobles and rulers as the mae god. eternally young and beautiful, the god of maize was a metaphor for life itself. portraits of the maize god and pakal share the same upswept hairdo that mimics the foliage and flowing corn silk of the maize plant. pakal and other rulers were buried with masks and jewelry made of green jade-- the color of the maize plant. just as maize died at harvest
3:17 pm
and returned to life with each new growing season maya rulers also hoped for life after death. the lid of pakal's sarcophagus shows him being lifted up into the sky as the maize god. what we see is pakal emerging om taws of the uer he is lying in a sacrificial plate. he is in the pose of the young child because he is being born from below. what he has done is he has triumphed over death. he has outwitted the gods of the underworld. and he is being reborn into the sky. (narrator) courtly life at palenque and other maya city-states brought with it responsibility. maya rulers literally paid for their status with their own blood. this sne relief depicts the rituals required of maya kings and queens. lady xok kneels before her husband,
3:18 pm
the lord of yahilan. she draws a rope studded with thorns through her tongue. her blood, dripping down the rope onto bark paper will be burned as an offering to the gods to insure that the cycle of life would endure. the story continues in a second relief. lady xok, perhaps in a pain-induced trance, has a vision. from the mouth of a giant serpent her ancestor emerges as an armed warrior. in a third relief she appears again, arming her husband with a shield and jaguar-helmet in preparation for war. in the absence of a central authority, the various petty kingdoms inevitably battled for control of resources. palenque waged war against tonina
3:19 pm
a warlike city-state lodged in the rugged mountains to the south. their grim rivalry persisted for generations. themes of war, sacrifice and captivity became common in maya art, documenting the impact of internecine warfare on court life. warriors... ready for the call of battle... the triumphant return from war... the display and humiliation of prisoners. maya warfare focused on the capture of live opponents especially the high-born. tonina captured its greatest trophy in the year 711 when they took the king of palenque, k'an hoy chitam as their prisoner. at tonina and elsewhere representations
3:20 pm
of captives sometimes served as the risers or treads of staircases-- to be forever trampled upon by the victors. at the pyramids at bonampak, long-abandoned buildings preserve the wall paintings rediscovered by giles healey. despite the ravages of time, they depict the martial ethos of the maya court. a painted reconstruction of the bonampak murals has recently been completed under the direction of mary miller at yale university. scientific analysis of the ancient pigments allowed them to recreate the colors first applied by the maya. there is probably no more poignant representation of the presentation of captives in court than the north wall of bonampak. what we see before us is a scene of the triumphant lords of bonampak.
3:21 pm
they are all decked out in their fabulous jaguar costumes. they are standing above nine captives and a severed head-- the most prominent captive lying dead diagonally acrosshe drway. (narrator) the murals represent captives in abject poses... their gestures plaintive... their hands drpid,thr acg ai men ouif the presentation of a ild-- perhaps an heir to the throne... dancers and musicians play maracas made from gourds instruments made from turtle shells, a drum and trumpets. the celebrants are costumed-- one is a crayfish, another is a crocodile. the murals at bonampak provide a graphic and vivid depiction of the maya--
3:22 pm
their cruelty, vanity love of music, and humor. they were left unfinished when the people of bonampak abandoned their city around the year 800. palenque and scores of oth maya cities also suffered from a rising tide of disintegration and social collapse. plenque, with its proud tower surveying the fertile plain that fueled its greatness, was abandoned to the rainforest in the ninth century. the world of the ancient maya, draid by warfare environmental degradation, and drou slipped into history. at palenque and elsewhere, the discoveries continue to unfold as archaeologists painstakingly rebuild the remnants of this ancient culture. in the 1990s, they found nearly 100 incense burners,
3:23 pm
revealing another layer of knowledge about the ancient maya culture. we know that the censers were used for a ritual to communicate with ancestors using blood. the blood was collected later in paper or cloth and mixed with aromatic resins. later this was all mixed and was burned. the idea was that the smoke from this resulted in the formation of a serpent. ancestors came out of the mouth of the serpent. (narrator) recent finds have shed new light on the reign of ahkal mo' nahb pakal's grandson who assumed the throne in 721. his reign, long thought to be uneventful was in fact an artistic high point for sculpture. in 2002, the mexican archaeologist arnoldo gonzalez cruz began excavations at temple 21. in 2002, we selected temple 21 because it had structural problems.
3:24 pm
we began to work on it with the idea of stabilizing it and we began archaeological exploration at the site. dung this process we were lucky to locate a panel that would be part of a platform or throne. (narrator) what emerged from beneath 1000 years of rubble was a portrait of three members of palenque's greatest dynasty. at the center, pakal grasps a sting-ray spine-- the bloodletting instrument. he is flanked by his grandson ahkal mo' nahb and his heir, upakal k'inich. and on er sienmac arling jr-keigur. (guillermo bernal romero) the images of these supernatural beings are really extraordinary. there is an interesting detail in the glyph that identifies them as priestly figures. the jaguar-priests seem to be supernatural mediators in the solemn act of sacrificing royal blood to the gods. (narrator) the ancient maya
3:25 pm
once masters of the jungles and highlands of mesoamerica are gradually being understood. what had seemed impenetrable mysteries have yielded to archaeog deciernt bringing individual kings, queens, and courtiers to life.
3:26 pm
captioning performed by pilgrim imaging, inc. 1-800-874-5474
3:27 pm
3:28 pm
3:29 pm
3:30 pm
♪ (narrator) henri de toulouse-lautrec captured the essence of parisian night life at the turn of the century like no other artist. talented and precocious, he drew and painted brilliantly in his early 20s. his first lithographs stunned critics and electrified the public. a master of surface, he also looked into the psychology of his subjects. lautrec was the right artist in the right place at the right time. he lived and worked in the last years of the 19th century in montmartre, a working-class neighborhood on the northern edge of paris. part rural... part urban... and more than slightly dangerous... montmartre was the down-at the heels birthplace of the cult of decadence. its exhilarating new art forms set off one of the greatest explosions in t history of enrtainment.
3:31 pm
he depicted its op its street-smart citizens and thrill-seeking visitors... boozers... and working girls... actors, singers... and dancers... middle class males on the prowl and their not so innocent working class female prey. he haunted montmartre's night clubs... and dance halls... cabarets... and cafés, circuses... and theatres. sketching by night painting by day, he translated ephemeral moments into portraits of a gas lit world fuelled by restless energy. he could use his very fluent draftsmanship to give a sense of the most immediate the most spontaneous recording and projecting of something seen in the modern world. that economy also spreads to the devices he uses which bring the spectator of his works into the game.
3:32 pm
"i recognize that. i know that that's very up to date. i understand it. i am modern like the artist." and it's that interplay that he generates between the spectator and his audience that is very, very modern. (narrator) the painter of montmartre's decadence had an aristocratic start. born in 1864 henri raymond de toulouse-lautrec came from a noble and distinguished family-- count raymond of toulouse had helped capture jerusalem in the first crusade. henri's branch of the family came from the red-brick city of albi in the south of france. henri grew up in a world of chateaus and privilege in a family living on the fruits of its noble past. but a france governed by the middle class was losing its taste for nobility. like many aristocrats,
3:33 pm
his father alphonse retreated into rural pastimes-- riding and hunting. an eccentric he looked wistfully back to the family's glorious past. alphonse had married his first cousin adele a common practice in a class anxious to preserve the purity of its bloodlines. but the results of inbreeding for henri were uncommonly cruel. his legs were short and weak. he broke each of them in early adolescence and stopped growing when he was 14. he was just under five feet tall. his head, hands and torso continued to develop. but his stunted legs made walking painful for the rest of his life. denied the aristocratic pleasures of riding and hunting, henri turned to sketching and painting rural scenes. he had a flair for it and in 1882, at the age of 18, he moved to paris to study painting. it was a move that would change the direction of his art and his life. paris in the 1880s was becoming the modern city.
3:34 pm
baron haussmann's legacy the great boulevards that define modern paris had sliced through the heart of the city, displacing anyone in the way. the poor and the working class moved out of the city's center. many went to montmartre. annexed by paris in 1860 the hilly, warren-like neighborhood of narrow streets climbed to the top of a butte on the city's northern edge. montmartre clung to the vestiges of its agricultural past. hillside vineyards produced wine for its cafés. its windmills still turned in lautrec's day a favorite subject of artists including vincent van gogh who also painted the view of paris from his window in 1886. cheap rents had attracted young artists for years-- edgar degas and auguste renoir rented studios there livingnd working cheo jowl
3:35 pm
with the poor and working classes. in the early 1880s paris was still recovering from the impact of the french defeat in the franco-prussian war of 1870. honoré daumier chronicled to the shame and anger that followed the surrender. the new regime the third republic failed to establish public order and suspended civil liberties. paris erupted. led by radicals, the city elected an alternative government-- the paris commune-- that drove the politicians of the third republic to versailles. already ravaged by prussian artillery fire paris paid a terrible price for its short lived resistance to the new republic's authority. edouard manet depicted the essence of the short violent suppression of the commune as french troops fired on french civilians-- killing thousands before they squashed the rebelli. the national soul-searching for the reasons behind the violence and chaos continued for decades.
3:36 pm
the middle class blamed the lower classes for abandoning patriotic virtues for decadence-- turning to alcoholism and prostitution and away from respect for authority. they saw decadence differently from the heights of montmartre. the third republic's succession of ineffectual and corrupt governments smacked of decadence and failed to address the social problems created by avaricious capitalism and industrialization. pollution and urban poverty plagued the capital until the end of the century. montmartre's artists found a new role for themselves. it was basically the concept of the independent artist the bohemian artist, against the bourgeoisie, the establishment life which had evolved since the early part of the 19th century. no longer did they have to kowtow to the establishment because thestablishmt wasn't as
3:37 pm
empowered. the third republic was really very weak. (narrator) the plight of the poor was a frequent subject. henri paul royer's view from the butte gave a human face to montmartre's grinding poverty. ramón casas noted the ramshackle poverty of back streets lying in the imposing shadow of the church of sacre-coeur. built with government financial assistance as penance for the sins of a defeated nation, sacre-coeur was also a call to arms for the moral regeneration of a france led by church and state. it was very quickly interpreted by montmartre's media, especially the radical media as an imposition of the third republic's power on montmartre. and that served as the focus to all the anti-militarists anti-clericalists and anti-capitalists who transformed it into a symbol of oppression by the establishment-- an attempt to dominate the anti-establishment elements of montmartre. (narrator) in an attempt to defuse the situation, the government loosened the restrictions
3:38 pm
imposed on the popular press after the suppression of the commune. in 1881, for the first time, you could publish journals with illustrations that did not have to be checked by the censor every day. simultaneously with this were new technologies in printing using photomechanical processes, which allowed journals to be printed very cheaply about one-tenth the cost as before. and so with the combination of no censorship and cheap journals with artists and writers working together you had a new journalistic club that was there to go after the bourgeoisie, and toulouse-lautrec became a part of that. (narrator) lautrec's apprenticeship as a painter began in montmartre at the studio of fernand cormon. cormon encouraged his students to have fun. lautrec's playfulness is recorded in photos-- he enjoyed dressing up in exotic costumes and exploring the possibilities of trick photography which was popular in the late 19th
3:39 pm
century. but his interest lay in what one writer called "the search for the present moment." like the impressionists, he was a naturalist, but he peered beyond the surface-- in search of his subjects' inner life. in 1887, he sold this painting to the art dealer theo van gogh, vincent's brother. the two artists were friends-- lautrec sketched vincent's portrait-- and van gogh shared lautrec's interest in subjects drawn from montmartre's public life. but lautrec's great early influence was the work of edgar degas. there's a wonderful anecdote about how, after dinner one evening he took some friends for what he called a dessert and took them to a friend's apartment where he showed them a painting by degas. what degas stood for was a kind of sophisticated naturalism in painting. degas, in the 1870s, had used cut-off figures steep angled perspectives,
3:40 pm
and other devices to give a dramatic sense of immediacy in a way of representing the modern world. lautrec borrowed those kinds of devices for his work. (narrator) the lessons degas offered in a work like in a café-- off-center compositions and cropped figures observed in the real world-- would emerge in lautrec's art. but he reached beyond the frontiers ofaturalism and moved into more expressive territory. as he grew into his own style, you see a greater difference between lautrec and degas. and one way you see that especially is that toulouse-lautrec always seems to have a greater emotional intimacy i'd say, with his models. there's always more of an empathy or an understanding, something closer that he's revealing. (narrator) montmartre was home to art forms as radical as its anti-establishment politics. artistic cabarets like the lapin agile were magnets for the disaffected. anarchists, socialists young artists,
3:41 pm
writers and singers created a culture of criticism. it frightened the government and titillated middle class parisians eager to slip the leash ofespectability. the uncontested star performer was aristide bruant. bruant fused the slang and experience of the poor into songs of bitterness and rage. "the lyrics of filth" fumed one critic-- but audiences loved him. it was unrequited love. beginning in 1881, bruant began a career of insulting the rich and singing his outrage at the broken lives of the poor in a montmartre cabaret called le chat noir-- the black cat. ♪ (narrator) the owner, rodolphe salis,
3:42 pm
created a shrewd mix of anti-establishment politics and avant-garde culture that sought and found a clientele of artists writers and intellectuals. the cabaret was the center of their activity. they began publishing, illustrating books exhibiting their work, and establishing montmartre as the center of the world artistically. everybody who came to paris had to stop by and visit the cabaret chat noir and to encounter these artists who literally and figuratively looked down on the rest of establishment france. (narrator) the chat noir was an enormous success-- and a source of inspiration for artists. a weekly newspaper edited by salis spread the cabaret's irreverent message to 20,000 readers. adolphe willette caught the spirit advocated at the chat noir in a canvas he painted and hung there in 1884. a cast of disreputable characters cascading disruptively down the hill defiantly and exuberantly dressed
3:43 pm
for decadence. it was an anarchic wind, blowing from the butte at the straight-laced values promoted by the third republic. decadence was manufactured by the writers and artists of the time in order to fit into the mold of bohemia. but was there real decadence in the sense that we see it as a deteriorating society and so forth? from our viewpoint today, no it was a very creative period of time-- of manufactured decadence. (narrator) this exuberant, anarchic world was lautrec's home workplace and subject of his greatest work-- an oasis of pleasure in a troubled country. france, around 1890, was a very tense society. the republic planned to make big reforms, but was slow in doing so. so the broad mass of the middle classes were holding change back and the working classes were feeling restless.
3:44 pm
lautrec, as an aristocrat, was rather outside this tension but that gave him the opportunity, the position, to look at what was going on and observe it in his art. (narrator) he painted montmartre's types-- the working class women eager to pose for cash. and he began to frequent and paint its public spaces and entertainments-- including its circuses. a staple of popular entertainment in the 19th century the circus was much loved by artists including pierre bonnard and lautrec's friend louis anquetin for its color, movement and excitement. lautrec was intrigued by the clowns-- whose mix of fantasy and menace seemed to reveal a psychological dimension. the 1888 painting at the cirque fernando is a study of the tensions between the ringmaster's coolly arrogant control and the athletic sexuality of the rider. a figure glamorous at a distance but at close quarters an image of coarseness caked with
3:45 pm
make up. the combination of forbidden pleasures and spectacle that characterized paris at the end of the 19th century was winked at by a government hungry for revenue from the entertainment industry. middle class parisians and tourists in search of fun paid tax when they ate in restaurants, drank in bars and traveled home in hansom cabs. the pace of modern life was accelerating and lautrec was the artist who saw its impact on public life most clearly. montmartre, its dance halls and cabarets brimming with sensuality and urban edge set the pace for modern paris. the moulin de la galette was its center. the moulin de la galette was basically a worker's dance hall, and, so, it was kind of the guts of montmartre. it's where the workers went. it's where prostitutes went. it's where the robber would be and so forth.
3:46 pm
it was really the heart of not bohemian life, but of working-class impoverished life in montmartre. (narrator) in moulin de la galette toulouse-lautrec provided a snap-shot of a seedy nocturnal world. in the background, a frieze of dancers and their spectators... to the side a policeman keeps the peace. and in the foreground, a watchful quartet-- prostitutes and their pimp-- sizing up prospects. lautrec paints it in a way that not only does the subject matter come across as this seedy, sordid surrounding but the paint is applied in a similar way. he takes very liquid paint which he thinned out with turpentine and streaks it across the canvas. so he creates a very almost sub-aqueous atmosphere, and people picked up on that right away. (narrator) in may of 1889, a reproduction of moulin de la galette appeared in the courrier francais-- a newspaper that had published copies
3:47 pm
of lautrec's work in preceding weeks. the originals were hung in aristide bruant's new club. bruant bought the lease to the chat noir and changed its name to le mirliton-- slang for "trashy verse." he continued his nightly assaults on the middle-class audience-- referring to his patrons as pigs-- and they continued to love it. he published a magazine to promote the cabaret and his songs, commissioning covers from up-and-coming artists like lautrec who were keen to extend their reach beyond fine art. young artists could have their work shown in alternative venues, like the chat noir or published in non-art press, the courrier francais or the chat noir journal. and it gave them a distribution that really had not been possible before. (narrator) the walls of paris were offering another possibility. in the 1890s they were rapidly becoming outdoor art galleries. the city auctioned off wall space to advertisers
3:48 pm
who plastered posters everywhere-- and artists saw the chance to advance their careers by dni poste jus chéret wg of the portts-- his coquettish figures were called chérettes. he was charles zidler's first choice when he needed an image to promote the opening of the moulin rouge in 1889. two yes later, lautc wa cic- doffing his cap to chéret, he created a sensation with his first stab at lithography-- a medium that would become his métier. the poster featured la goulue, the bawdy high-energy dancer. accompanied by the supple valentin le désossé-- valentine the boneless-- she was the undisputed star of the moulin rouge. the new entertainment complex of stages, dance floors, gardens, bars-- and a plaster elephant acquired from the grounds of the 1889 world's fair.
3:49 pm
lautrec had first seen and painted the dancers at the moulin de la galette in 1887. he'd also seen something new-- the show theers, the latest craze in pasian entertainments lit from behind, the figures-- cut from zinc-- were operated by a team of stage hands. the poster's silhouettes inspired by the shadow theatre conveyed the modernity of the moulin rouge. lautrec had a fascination with performers off and on stage that drove his art for the rest of his life. the moulin rouge continued to attract him-- he caught the pensive side of the female clown cha-u-ka-o... dancers in the stage lights and their promenading audience... and the casual, commercial encounters in the shadows... in at the moulin rouge, begun in 1892, he depicted himself at its center. la goulue arranges her hair as a lady of the night cruises by.
3:50 pm
in a world of mirrors where surface is everything, the hectic pursuit of pleasure is reflected endlessly. aristide bruant, no stranger to self-promotion, noticed the impact of lautrec's first poster. to promote his performances at a café-concert on the champs-elysées-- safe in the heart of metropolitan paris-- bruant commissioned a poster from lautrec. he captured bruant's persona in his expression-- half-smirk, half-scowl-- and reduced his trademark cloak, scarf and hat to a minimum-- simplicity learned from japanese artists. clearly relishing the irony of marketing a roughneck to the bourgeoisie lautrec added a sinister figure in the background-- a nod the dangeus streets of me. it was stunningly modern. in a second commission lautrec simplified the image even further. bruant sold copies inside his cabaret, posted it outside
3:51 pm
and incorporated det of the age lrltern the poster went up all ov paris. it was reprinted in different versions for twenty years. it also worked its way into a drawing by steinlen for bruant's magazine. the posters made bruant one of the most recognizable entertainers in frenchistory. in a fourth collaboration, toulouse-lautrec could rely on the public to recognize the singer from behind. ♪ bruant had moved down the hill to central paris and mainstream fame. montrtre was headed downtoo-- its innovative art forms diluted for the tourist trade. toulouse-lautrec kept his edge and continued to concentrate on performers. the american dancer loie fuller hit paris like a meteor shower-- her dancing and innovative use of dynamic electric lighting
3:52 pm
appealed to the french vogue for modernity. intrigued by her swirling forms, lautrec produced a series of lithographs. as close to abstraction as he ever ventured the colors were altered with each printing and the final stone lightly dusted with silver or gold. admirers of art nouveau praised the finished product's swirling line, but fuller preferred jules chéret's approach. lautrec was prone to what he called furias-- short, intense devotions to entertainers that intrigued him. the dancer marcelle lender thrilled him-- he attended more than 20 performances of an operetta simply to sketch her. the painting, marcelle lender dancing the bolero in chilpéric, caught lender center stage-- framed by the lush colors of the sets and costumes. jane avril the moulin rouge star
3:53 pm
described by a critic as "dancing with an air of depraved virginity," became both a subject and a friend. he even posed for a photo in her coat and hat. avril was cultured and delicate. institutionalized briefly as a teenager, she sat for lautrec and commissioned posters from him. he allowed her a privacy absent in his depictions of other stars-- focusing on her as a fragile and enigmatic personality rather than a commodity to be packaged. his poster for the divan japonais, a café-concert placed avril in profile beside the writer edouard dujardin. and at the top-- a playful allusion to another star recognizable to parisians by her long gloves: yvette guilbert. she made her name with witty monologues-- half spoken, half sung and often risqué. ♪ lautrec captured guilbert's persona
3:54 pm
in a simple, elegant image-- allowing her trademark black gloves to convey her celebrity. lautrec also painted a series of pictures of the more private world of parisian brothels. dotted around the city discreet entrances opened into a hidden world that had been a part of french life for centuries. upscale brothels known as maisons closes-- closed houses-- were housed in well-appointed buildings. in the 1890s, toulouse-lautrec was an occasional customer at a maison close this buding across th street from chatoi brothels and t life withhem were frequent subjects for 19th-century artists
3:55 pm
including edgar degas. lautrec, a frequent client painted the day-to-day life of prostitutes without prejudice. these women, in pictures like the sofa just sit there, calm unmolested by clients. there are other pictures where he takes a much less sympathetic, more caricatural attitude. a painting like "the laundryman," for example, shows a man leering at a prostitute who seems to have left her dressing gown hanging open. but there are other pictures again, where he seems to have a very, very sympathetic attitude. the great painting of the medical inspection shows a tremendous sympathy to the women in the maison close, and the plush red, rather torrid background against which these pale bodies are set gives it a very poignant atmosphere. (narrator) then as now it was a touchy subject-- the paintings were rarely and screetly shown in lautrec's lifetime. by the late 1890s, lautrec's lifestyle-- the late nights of furias
3:56 pm
and frantically sketching the decadent dream the drinking, carousing and behaving badly had taken its toll. no drink was too strong or strong enough. he created a "cocktail" called the earthquake-- equal parts absinthe and brandy. in 1897 he moved to the avenue frochot a private street on the lower slopes of montmartre. but the drinking continued and he lost control of his line and his life. a final design for a poster commissioned by jane avril emerged, but was never executed. in 1899 his family had him committed to an asylum. produced a series of masterful depictions of circus scenes remembered from his youth to convince the doctors of his rehabilitation. the drawings persuaded his doctors that he was in charge of his life but that illusion was short-lived. after a vacation he began to drink heavily insulting and occasionally assaulting friends and strangers.
3:57 pm
he frequented old haunts and painted a blowsy courtesan plying her trade-- using looser brushwork than ever before. in 1901, at the age of 36, he died from a combination of syphilis, alcoholism, and congenital infirmities. his father wrote to his first teacher "the little one as you used to call him died last night. i saw him but he did not see me; his eyes were wide open but after three or four days in a delirium they saw nothing. more painful perhaps for us, who have lost him, than for himself who has come to the end of his suffering." lautrec's eyes, finally closed had seen like no one else the strangeness, glamour sensuality and beauty of montmartre. the stars who fueled it shined more brightly becae his artistry. the simplesos he depi fnd
3:58 pm
if not sympathy, understanding and acceptance. ♪
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
annenberg media ♪ by: narrador: bienvenidos al episodio 30 de destinos. primero, algunas escenas de este episodio. iay! iraquel! dormí mucho. sí, y te hizo bien. así estarás más descansada. ¿y roberto? todavía no se sabe nada.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on