For fifty years Jean-Louis Forain (1852–1931) enjoyed enormous fame with ironic drawings castigating the bourgeoisie and its shortcomings in publications as varied as Le Figaro, Le Courrier français, The New York Herald and Le Rire. More than just a satirist, Forain was a skilled painter of manners who exposed the underside of Paris society from the Belle Epoque through the Roaring Twenties.
With over two hundred oils, watercolours, pastels, engravings and drawings, the Petit Palais unveils an incredibly fertile adventure in art, from the early years of the most incisive of the Impressionists up to the Expressionism of his final years.
Initially leading a bohemian life with Rimbaud and Verlaine, Forain had numerous writer friends, notably J.-K. Huysmans. He was the youngest of all the artists to sit in on the feverish discussions led by Manet and Degas at the Café Guerbois and then the Nouvelle-Athènes. Having soaked up the Impressionists' theories on light and colour, he put the emphasis on everyday life – performances, backstage and café life, horse racing, elegant amusement venues, society evenings – in work shown at four Impressionist exhibitions between 1879 and 1886. His drawings were published in book form, with the first volume, La Comédie Parisienne, appearing in 1892.
This retrospective will also be shown in the summer of 2011 at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens museum in Memphis, Tennessee.