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Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints

In the mid 19th century, French artists began depicting shadowy, often nocturnal or twilight scenes in which forms appear to emerge out of darkness. This quest for darkened realms led them to explore new subject matter, such as dream states and non-idealized representations of contemporary life.

The range and availability of black drawing materials exploded with the Industrial Revolution, along with improvements in working methods. This coincided with an interest in painterly techniques, not only in drawing but also in printmaking. It is impossible to say what influences came first, but what followed was a graphic exploration of darkness that constitutes an important moment in the history of Modernism.

This exhibition examines the inspiration that artists drew from their materials, and their expression of darkness in all its imaginative and narrative associations. Works are drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection and loans from private and public Los Angeles collections.
Relevant research areas: Western Europe, 19th Century

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