Art in Town

Art On Campus

Other Museums

Art In Trenton

Art by the River

Art in the Workplace

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This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the January 10,

2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

From Art Deco Paris: Pochoir Prints

In a way, any school child who enters a poster contest

knows about the art of pochoir, or stencil, printing. Early in the

20th century, though, this demanding technique was as exotic, and

as beautiful, as some of its subjects.

The French word "pochoir" (pronounced po-SHWAR) means

"stencil,"

and the process of creating images through stencils — cut-out

designs that are printed on paper, and then hand-colored — was

adapted by French artists from the Japanese color-stencil process

known as "katagami" that reached the West with the trade boom

of the late 19th century. In Japan this technique had long been used

for printing elaborate decoratove patterns on silk and other textiles.

By the Art Deco period, when Paris was recognized as the center of

the world for all the decorative arts, Parisian artists and their

retinues of colorists were producing many-of-a-kind images

distinguished

by stylized renderings of the passing scene in vibrant colors.

Fashion,

architecture and decor, life styles — these were the chief

subjects

of pochoir prints, which then often became part of portfolios and

books. Documenting this hedonistic era, about 100 original pochoir

prints are on exhibit in "Art Deco Paris: 1900-1925," in the

Leonard L. Milberg Gallery for the Graphic Arts at Princeton

University’s

Firestone Library, through April 8.

Dale Roylance, who curated the exhibition, has grouped the prints

around a number of themes — among them, the role of music and

dance, and the lure of the exotic and the "naughty." Visitors

to the second floor Milberg Gallery can enjoy vivid pochoir prints

showing people of the time dancing the tango, described as one of

the dance crazes of the ’20s that lasted; playing the piano, perhaps

something by Debussy, Satie, or Ravel, all then at their creative

peak; or singing art songs. The "Roaring ’20s" was also the

time of "le jazz hot," represented here in the sinuous person

of Josephine Baker, the black star of "Le Revue Negre" who

traveled from Harlem to Paris in 1925 for fame and fortune.

Printmakers

portray her in a succession of memorable "stop-action" poses.

As for the fascination of the exotic, and even the naughty, it may

have started with the captivating visit of Sergei Diaghilev’s Les

Ballets Russes to Paris in 1908. The color-saturated set and costume

designs by Leon Bakst, especially those for "Scheherazade,"

fed into a fashion frenzy for harem skirts and turbans. A concurrent

fascination with Oriental lacquer and Coromandel screens, as well

as "pillow prints," showing luxurious piles of plush,

multi-colored

pillows suggestive of Japan’s "pillow books" — manuals

for young ladies on making love — all serve to illustrate the

creed of worldly and sophisticated Parisians: "good times,

beautiful

people, erotic dalliance, and exotic lifestyle." Epitomizing the

time and its pursuits, the "Seven Deadly Sins" series by

master

colorist George Barbier manages to suggest that "vice is

nice."

While the expression "fashion plate" today usually refers

to a woman dressed a la mode, during the Art Deco period it

described the popular artful illustrations of haute couture designs.

To spread the names and popularize the clothes of designers like Worth

and Lanvin — notable enough to be known only by their surnames

— a cadre of "fashion plate artists" grew, and the pochoir

prints they produced were known, literally, as "fashion

plates."

Paul Poiret, described as "an enterprising couturier,"

marketed

himself in "Les robes de Paul Poiret," a catalog of fashion

plates that is included in the show. Do our Macy’s, Saks, and

Bergdorf’s

newspaper ads aspire to such artful immortality?

In our day, the poster contest entrant has it comparatively easy.

Trace the letters of the words with different stencils, perhaps do

the same with shapes for the design, then add color where desired.

Result: one poster. But what if 100 of them are needed? In that case,

the enterprising artist might try the "Tom Sawyer

fence-painting"

gambit, and enlist credulous friends for a production line: You can

trace; you can do the red, you, the green; . . . and maybe

I’ll let you take over for me on the blue. . . With careful

enough instruction, many hands make light, and consistent, the work.

In France’s Art Deco era, such repetitious work was

usually the job of women and children, who might apply as many as

100 variations of color to a single print. And of course, it could

be much more complicated, involving textural differences, shading,

and sharp contrasts within each of these variations through brushing,

daubing, sponging, spraying, and spattering the pigment.

To begin with, the artist created an image to be reproduced in

transparent

watercolor and/or opaque gouache. Only after a color analysis and

count could both the number of stencils needed and their material

be determined. Fields of the same color were traced from the original

image onto a sheet of paper, which was in turn fastened to the

material

the stencil would be cut from. Once the cut stencils were flattened

in a press, a series of trial runs tested their accuracy and color

correctness.

The sheets of paper to receive the color were then processed along

an assembly line, with each new shade applied only after the one

before

it had dried, and with strong colors usually put down first and

lighter

shades overlapping them. Finally, after a quality-control check,

approved

pochoirs could be released commercially as "true multi-originals

of the artist’s creation."

The pochoir technique also enhanced everyday ephemera ranging from

fans, and parasols, to name tags, and from advertisements to packaging

of cosmetics. Joan Miro’s red Art Deco fan in pochoir is a vivid

addition

to one display case. A few pochoir artists who produced comparatively

non-traditional images, or "ornamental abstractions," account

for the connection between pochoir and modern art, for which

"breaking

down realism and refiguring form" was the name of the game.

One timeless, and invaluable, example of pochoir at its height is

the post-Art Deco book reproducing Henri Matisse’s paper cutouts for

"Jazz" — "a vibrant testimonial to color and

music"

— that was printed in pochoir. Visitors to the Milberg Gallery

will see examples from the book that is known as the consummate

artist’s

book of the 20th century.

This exhibition provides a trip through history via beautiful imagery

and color. Yet merely reaching the gallery can be a value-added

experience.

As you enter the Firestone Library lobby, first savor Isamu Noguchi’s

sculpted marble "White Sun." Then pass by (if you can) the

Cotsen Children’s Library, whose "please no food or drinks"

door sign is fittingly illustrated with an image from "Auguste

a mauvais caratere" — the tale of the "insupportable,

detestable und intractible toddler Auguste," written and

illustrated

by Andre Devambez. Finally, walk through the Special Collections

display

area on your way to the elevator where you’ll find "A Community

of Scholars: Graduate Education at Princeton," an exhibit of more

than 100 photographs, documents, and artifacts that chronicle the

evolution of graduate studies at Princeton. There’s so much to see,

you may want to skip the one-hour parking meter and put the car in

a garage.

— Pat Summers

Milberg Gallery, Firestone Library, Princeton University,

609-258-5049. "Art Deco Paris: 1900-1925," a portrait of

Parisian

society manifest in the pochoir printmaking technique. Open Monday

through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday to 8 p.m.; Saturday and

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Exhibit continues to April 8. Free.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Firebird Gallery, 16 Witherspoon Street, 609-688-0775.

A holiday exhibit of original watercolors by the Russian-born

illustrator

Gennady Spirin from two new picture books: "Philipok" by Leo

Tolstoy, and "Joy to the World, a Family Christmas Treasury."

Gallery hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To January

15.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158

Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "Old Traditions, New Beginnings,"

a major exhibition celebrating 250 years of Princeton Jewish history,

jointly presented and exhibited at the Jewish Center of Princeton.

This is the first-ever exhibit on the history of Princeton’s Jewish

community, scheduled to coincide with the Jewish Center’s 50th

anniversary.

Topics addressed include early arrivals, family life, social

organizations,

work and business pursuits, religious traditions, and anti-Semitism.

On view through March.

Medical Center at Princeton, 253 Witherspoon Street,

609-497-4192.

Dining room exhibit of works by Pennsylvania resident artist Susan

Ketcham. Part of the proceeds benefit the Medical Center. On view

daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., to January 18.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Witnessing to the Word," a group

show featuring the work of sculptor Patrick Birge, potter Patrick

Caughy, and painter Patrick Ellis. The artists met through a

consortium

of theological schools. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.

to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 9:30 p.m. To January

5.

The Williams Gallery, 8 Chambers Street, 609-921-1142.

First day for "The Familiar and Not So Familiar," an exhibit

of works by digital artist Roman Verostko that includes traditional

landscapes and still lifes to futuristic visions of space and nature.

Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January

27.

Top Of Page
Art On Campus

Art Museum, Princeton University, 609-258-3788. "The

American Tradition in Drawings," to January 28. "Contemporary

Photographs," to February 25. On extended view in the Bowen

Gallery,

Richard Serra’s "Weight and Measure" etchings. The museum

is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5

p.m. Free tours of the collection are every Saturday at 2 p.m. Free.

The permanent collection features a strong representation of Western

European paintings, old master prints, and original photographs.

Collections

of Chinese, Pre-Columbian Mayan, and African art are considered among

the museum’s most impressive. Not housed in the museum but part of

the collection is the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of

20th-century

outdoor sculpture, with works by such modern masters as Henry Moore,

Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and George Segal located throughout

the campus.

Princeton University, Firestone Library,

609-258-3184.

The Graduate School continues its centennial observance with the

exhibition

"A Community of Scholars: Graduate Education at Princeton,"

an exhibition of more than 100 photographs, documents, and artifacts

that chronicle the evolution of graduate studies at Princeton. Library

is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday to 8 p.m.;

Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 8.

Top Of Page
Other Museums

American Hungarian Museum, 300 Somerset Street, New

Brunswick,

732-846-5777. "Herend: Hungarian Porcelain at its Finest,"

an exhibition of hand-painted porcelain pieces created since the

company’s

founding in 1839. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to

4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To February 25. $5 donation.

James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street,

Doylestown,

215-340-9800. "The Lenfest Exhibition of Pennsylvania

Impressionism."

Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest bequeathed 59 paintings that tell the

story of the renowned art colony, centered in New Hope, in the early

20th Century. Museum hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;

Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9

p.m. To February 11. Admission $5 adults; $1.50 students.

Also, "In Line with Al Hirschfeld," a retrospective

documenting

Hirschfeld’s life, career, and the history of the performing arts.

Exhibit, with accompanying lecture, tour, and film series, to February

11. "Carved, Incised, Burnished and Gilded: The Bucks County

Framemaking

Tradition," featuring 50 objects that tell the story of the

region’s

well-regarded group of frame artists led by Frederick Harer and Ben

Badura; to March 18.

Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street,

New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. The newly expanded and renovated museum

features "Michael Mazur: A Print Retrospective" covering a

40-year span of the artist’s career, to February 16. Museum hours

are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday,

noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults age 18 and up; free for

children and students; admission is free on the first Sunday of each

month.

Also on exibit: "Monotypes in Contemporary American

Printmaking"

from the rich resources of the Rutgers Archives for Printmaking

Studios,

to February 18. "Realities and Utopias: Abstract Painting from

the Dodge Collection," to January 14. "Opening Up: A

Half-Century

of Artistic Dialogue between Japan and the West" (ongoing). And

"A World of Stage: Designs for Theater, Opera, and Dance from

the Riabov Collection," to March 31.

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Art In Trenton

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Fall-Winter Exhibition. In the Domestic Arts Building:

"James Dinerstein: New Sculpture," recent works in cast

bronze;

"Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture."

Show continues to April 8. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to

9 p.m., year round; Sunday is Members Day. Admission is $4 Tuesday

to Thursday; $7 Friday and Saturday; and $10 Sunday.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton,

609-292-6464."Nikon’s Small World 2001" to January 18. "Artists’

Visions, Artists’ Views" to January 30. "Dinosaurs, Ammonites

& Asteroids," to January 21. Museum is open Tuesday through

Saturday,

9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and state

holidays.

On extended view: "The Modernists;" "Fine and Decorative

Arts Collections;" "New Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and

Iron;" "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The Archaeological

Record;" "Delaware Indians of New Jersey;" "The Sisler

Collection of North American Mammals;" "Of Rock and Fire;

New Jersey and the Great Ice Age;" "Dinosaur Turnpike: Treks

through New Jersey’s Piedmont;" "Amber: the Legendary

Resin;"

and "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

Also, at the Department of State Building, 225 West State Street,

Trenton, an exhibit of "New Jersey Artists in the Collection of

the New Jersey State Museum," through January 31.

Top Of Page
Art by the River

Artists’ Gallery, 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville,

609-397-4588.

"Small Works Show" featuring drawing, painting, photography,

and sculpture by 18 gallery artists including Gail Bracegirdle, Alan

Klawans, Lisa Mahan, Marc Reed, and Annelies Van Dommelen. To February

4.

Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, 609-397-0804.

Holiday show features watercolors by Lucy Graves McVicker and casein

paintings by Katherine Steele Renninger. Gallery hours are Wednesday

to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January 14.

7 North Gallery, 7 North Main Street, Lambertville,

609-397-3939.

Dramatic landscape and wildlife photographs by nature photographer

Richard Demler. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.;

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Sunday. To January 29.

Area Galleries

Montgomery Cultural Center, 1860 House, 124 Montgomery

Road, 609-921-3272. "Joel Popadics: Recent Traditional

Watercolors."

Also, the Professional Artists Group’s holiday show. Gallery hours

are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Both

shows to January 26.

Top Of Page
Art in the Workplace

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building Two,

Lawrenceville,

609-895-7307. A new series of oil on paper and mixed-media paintings

by Wanda Blake, a professional artist living in Morris County who

studied at Newark’s School of Fine and Industrial Arts. Curated by

Gary Snyder Fine Art, gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to

5 p.m. To January 26.


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