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I know what you’re thinking: that title is pure click bait. But it’s not! There’s a new exhibit in the Van Gogh that focuses on Easy Virtue: the French, high end prostitutes, and especially the many artists that were inspired by them. Works by none other than Edgar Degas, Henric de Toulouse-Lautrec, Kees van Dongen, Pablo Picasso and, of course, Vincent van Gogh are shown in a setting that breathes 19th century Paris. And this Friday, with their monthly Vincent on Friday the museum is catering to a younger audience with quite the program.
In the 18th century, prostitution was illegal in France, but the ‘demimonde’, the world of elite prostitution for the upper classes, was allowed. These women were not just prostitutes, they were called ‘dames entretenues’ (kept women). A kept woman would often act as if a man was her entire world, keeping him company, satisfying him, while giving him the illusion of true love. In return the man would pay her bills, give her a home and often buy things for her. This immediately reminded me of Moulin Rouge, where courtisane Satine falls for penniless writer Christian (still puts me to tears) because she thinks he’s a handsome, rich duke while he has nothing else to offer than his love and words. Because they could call these women their mistresses it wasn’t even illegal. This practice of keeping a mistress is called ‘la galanterie’.
This Friday you not only get to see the exhibit, but there’s a huge program to stimulate all your senses. You can have your picture taken like a true courtesan (you have three more days to squat) in the photo booth hosted by Paardenkracht or maybe you’d rather book a room in Hotel Lust & Lost where you can have a ‘philosophical quicky’ or ask a real escort everything you’ve always wondered about. There are interesting talks, DJs to make you move and models you can draw in a lesson of ‘draw me like one of your French girls‘.
Only question that remains is how to do everything in one night. But that’s something we can figure out together!
Vincent on Friday x Easy Virtue
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