Jean-Louis Forain, La Comédie Parisienne
I did not know about Jean-Louis Forain before I visited the Petit Palais exhibition dedicated to him. I feel incredibly lucky that I got to discover the talented fin de siècle French artist by chance a few weeks ago at the fantastically curated display of 240 of his works in Paris.
From pastel sketches to oil paintings, from ink caricature drawings to watercolour illustrations and even glass mosaics, I saw the most vivid play on light, colour and characters’ expressions. The artist’s favourite subjects were portraits of society and daily life, social events such as opera, balls, café scenes and horse-races, depicting the true nature, traits and morals of characters.
Nicknamed Gavroche by the most important writers and poets of the time Rimbaud and Verlaine, Jean-Louis Forain developed aesthetics inspired by his contemporaries Degas and Renoir and blended impressionism with post-expressionism in a effortless art, and inspired others to follow up in his steps, such as Toulouse-Lautrec.
But his main specialty was his engaged art, denouncing unfair trials and situations of society, prostitution and reporting on the 1914-18 war.
A great highlight on an artist who definitely deserves to be more recognised and re-discovered. Kudos to the Petit Palais for that.
Image credit: Jean-Louis Forain, Au Théâtre, 1882.