ARTH 543
Color, High and Low Fall 2019
Division I

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Why should color in prints be controversial? For most of the nineteenth century-even as technical advances encouraged a flowering of color in woodcut, intaglio, and especially lithographic production-entrenched voices in the art establishment continued to insist on printmaking as an art of black and white. Drawing upon a wide variety of examples from the Clark’s collection, this course will explore the range of associations that 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: although chromatic experiments in this medium enabled striking aesthetic innovations, the extreme complexity of the process also 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. Alongside the close examination of original works of art, a set of critical and theoretical readings will help us navigate the paradoxes of printed color. Apart from the standard requirements, including a research paper and class presentation, students will have an option to participate in a summer 2020 exhibition based on the course findings. This course will take place in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper at the Clark.
The Class: Type: Seminar
Limit: none
Expected: 12
Class#: 1955
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation and writing assignments
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then advanced art history undergraduates
Distributions: Division I

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