3.03.2011

Art Deco Pochoir at the RISD Library

I'm a selfish person. I don't share the things I love without careful consideration, and jealously guard those things I adore. Only after hemming-and-hawing have I decided to show you, dear reader, the following images, and only then because I care for you so much.

On offer at the RISD Library in Providence is a glorious show of Art Deco pochoir prints from the 1920s through the early 1930s; over the next several days, I'll share a selection of these prints. From the exhibition description:

"Simply stated, pochoir is the French word for stencil. In the 1920's and 30's Art Deco era, the color application process of the stencil was rejuvenated by the French, bringing color illustration processes for books and prints to glorious new heights. This interest in exploring the stencil process came in reaction to the proliferation of machine printing and the poor quality of color reproductions in publishing. With pochoir printing, the hand application of layers of colors created dazzling effects that the camera or printing press could never replicate. Earlier stencil works, typically used for decorative surface ornament, were quite primitive, with applied color areas outlined by the supporting cutout framework. New experimental techniques in pochoir refined the process using mulitple layers of color applications for a single print.

With pochoir, a painting, a fashion plate, a decorative or interior design, or illustration to be duplicated was carefully analyzed to determine each color layer. Separate stencils were cut, sometimes in thin sheets of copper, zinc, or aluminum, for every color component. Each successive color layer, using watercolor or gouache, was applied to the stencil with a brush called a pompom. Sometimes as many as 100 stencils were used to recreate a single image. Pochoir printing was also easily combined with images made by lithography, woodcut, wood engraving, line drawings, or etchings, thus turning a decorative technique into a fine art ..."

Stage set for Orphee, by Cesar Klein:



And perhaps the best fashion illustration, be it photo or drawing, that I have ever seen:



I think "en plein coeur" translates to "to the core" or "through the heart," and it is almost painfully striking. By A.E. Martu (?) for Poiret, and published in Le Bon Ton, a magnificent fashion magazine of the time. If only you could find something like this is a contemporary magazine.

4 comments:

Daniel-Halifax said...

Goddamn these are amazing!!

K:ra said...

oh my these are so terribly beautiful. thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Having just stumbled across your blog I realize I am very late in posting a comment but..... when I attended RISD in the late 60's one could check these portfolios of pochoir prints out of the library. I continually checked out E.A. Seguy's "Papillons" wanting only to have them around me while I trudged through various less inspired design assignments.

Anonymous said...

I love the picture of the lady with the arrow in her body. Very unique and artistic.

-Zane of ontario honey

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