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About Explore

For Immediate Release
November 18, 2021

CLARK ART INSTITUTE PRESENTS OPENING LECTURE FOR HUE & CRY: FRENCH PRINTMAKING AND THE DEBATE OVER COLORS

Williamstown, Massachusetts—On Saturday, December 11 in conjunction with the opening of Hue & Cry: French Printmaking and the Debate over Colors, the Clark Art Institute will present a lecture by Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Anne Leonard. The lecture will be presented live in the Clark’s auditorium and broadcast simultaneously via Zoom and Facebook Live at 2 pm. 

Exploring the surprising but steady opposition to printed color in nineteenth-century France, Hue & Cry showcases the Clark’s extraordinary holdings of French color prints by artists including Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Jules Chéret, Maurice Denis, Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Edouard Vuillard.

Brightly colored prints and posters, synonymous with Belle Époque Paris in the 1890s, remain beloved images in our own era. Yet their extreme popular appeal masks the fact that, for a very long time, color in print was an outlier phenomenon. Not only was printed color difficult and expensive to achieve, it was also frowned upon as a matter of aesthetic taste. Value-laden descriptors like “garish, cheap, commercial” became attached to color printmaking, discouraging attempts in this area even after technical advances made it more feasible and affordable.

A century before the “color revolution” of the 1890s, color prints attained a zenith of technical perfection in France, but their popularity did not last. Extremely costly, and intimately associated with the decadence of the monarchy, these exquisite printed confections saw both their relevance and their primary clientele disappear abruptly in the wake of the French Revolution. When color crept back into French printmaking toward the end of the nineteenth century, its entry was eased by the example of Japanese ukiyo-e prints, then enjoying an immense vogue, and by progressive voices in the art world insisting that any means of expression chosen by an artist should be taken as legitimate. This launched a period of intense experimentation and production that spurred printmakers, seduced by the lure of color, to achieve technically and aesthetically audacious feats. This exhibition explores a wide range of examples, from mass-market poster designs to coveted limited-edition portfolios, by some of the period’s most beloved artists.

No registration is needed to attend the live event, but registration is required for the Zoom transmission. Registrants will receive an email with a private Zoom link to this live virtual program before the event. The event will also be broadcast via Facebook Live. For more information and to register, visit clarkart.edu/events

Hue & Cry: French Printmaking and the Debate over Colors is made possible by Denise Littlefield Sobel. The exhibition is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Anne Leonard, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. 

This program has been made possible in part by a grant from Mass Humanities, which provided funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities though the American Rescue Plan. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

ABOUT THE CLARK
The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 285,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Its 140-acre campus includes miles of hiking and walking trails through woodlands and meadows, providing an exceptional experience of art in nature. Galleries are open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday and daily in July and August. Advance timed tickets are required. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, all visitors age 21 and under, and students with a valid student ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; and EBT Card to Culture. For more information on these programs and more, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303. As of November 1, visitors age twelve and older will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to entering the Clark’s facilities. Visitors age five and older are required to wear face masks at all times while indoors, and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. For details on health and safety protocols, visit clarkart.edu/health.  

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