Hue & Cry: French Print Making and The Debate Over Colors

Date: December 11, 2021 - March 6, 2022

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Phone: 4134582303
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The Clark
225 South Street
Williamstown, MA 01267

Hue & Cry: French Print Making and The Debate Over Colors

Hard as it is to believe today, the use of color in fine-art printmaking was for a long time a controversial issue. This exhibition explores the surprising but steady opposition to printed color over the nineteenth century in France. Even as technical advances encouraged leading printmakers to innovate with color, entrenched voices in the art establishment continued to insist on printmaking as an art of black and white. A wide range of associations attached to color prints, along a broad spectrum from highbrow preciousness and subtlety to lowbrow commercialism and bad taste. Color lithography was a particular lightning rod for controversy, for the extreme complexity of the process meant that the designer of a print became farther and farther removed from its actual production. This was just as true for the delicate and exquisite suites produced in limited editions by Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Maurice Denis as it was for the large-scale, brightly-colored lithographic posters of Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, used to advertise popular urban entertainments.

 

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