Toulouse-Lautrecs The Circus: Thirty-Nine Crayon Drawings in Color (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)

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These problems can be summed up as original versus reproduction, high versus low and autonomy versus propaganda. Thus, in the first chapter the late s are central, because it was then that the original print as art became differentiated from its other purposes. Several developments that led to the original print will be examined, such as the etching revival in the s and the Impressionist print in the s. In chapter two, the notion of the original print will be studied further from the interface of high versus low. The original print is often perceived as a unique, individual expression of the artist, but at the same time, the democratization of the print was applauded, like the poster and illustrations in journals and books.

This latter development must be examined in the sphere of applied arts and decoration, inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement. In the last chapter, a different use of the original print will be examined, namely the contradictory given of an original print published for the anarchist cause.

Another paradox is central as well, the artist contributing to the anarchist cause who wanted to maintain his autonomous, artistic position at the same time. Many avant-garde artists did indeed contribute, though in different ways. While artists such as Alexandre Steinlen and Maximilien Luce had no problem creating political prints, artists such as Camille Pissarro and Paul Signac were anxious not to produce any clear-cut propaganda, whereas Vallotton appeared to have been indifferent. Therefore, in this section the following questions are central: how did the anarchist print develop?

More specifically: was there an anarchist iconography? And how should the original print be understood in this context?

Art History Reconsidered, 1800 to the Present

On the one hand, it provoked a counter-reaction of printmakers and artists who then adopted outdated print techniques, while on the other hand the new technology supported innovative experiments in the art world. The interface of craft versus industry is thus related to and will come up for discussion in all chapters. The three chapters will cover the first decades of the Third Republic, because at that moment the photomechanical techniques became increasingly advanced and started to dominate the art world. The late s and s will be central, because it was then that both the original print and anarchism culminated and many albums and journals were founded.

After , the interest in the original print and fame of the discussed artists faded and the artisanal print techniques disappeared from the artistic sphere. Historiography Secondary literature has not yet given a satisfying overview of the different, contradictory applications of printmaking. While there is an abundance of studies on nineteenth-century art, the focus is rarely on printmaking, unless it is relevant to the oeuvre of a certain avant-garde artist. However, none of these studies seemed to have examined the ambiguities surrounding the late nineteenth-century print; they either ignored them or mentioned them in passing.

In , Verhoogt published his comprehensive study Art in Reproduction, in which he did expose some of these ambiguities, but his focus was on reproduction of paintings rather than on the original print. On the other hand, there are studies that did focus on art in a political and social context. In the s, Eugenia and Robert Herbert have given new insights in the relation between art and anarchism, which are still a substantial source today. Not until the late s, s was this seriously researched again, for instance by Sonn and Hutton.

However, these scholars discussed printmaking only obliquely and often presented a one-sided view, namely the relation of artists to politics and society. In this research, on the contrary, all these ambiguities will be brought together, with printmaking in its center. Exactly this bringing together will offer an understanding of how printmaking functioned in late nineteenth-century France. By focusing on the dichotomy of high versus low, this research falls in this tradition of examining avant-garde and postmodern art.

However, it lets go of fixed ideas on high art, by starting to centralize printmaking. It appears that the deep- rooted notion of high versus low was already blurred within printmaking in the late nineteenth century. Although several authors did focus on these blurs e. Clark , they usually concentrated on painting, which always had a clear position in the realm of high art, even though style and subject matter may have changed.

This stands in sharp contrast to printmaking, as this medium was itself already, despite content and style, on this boundary of high versus low. As the purpose of this research is to analyze the position of the original print in late nineteenth century France, it is important to understand the different interactions between the creator of the print, the publisher, the critic, the dealer and the audience, or consumer, at large.

Consequently, a broader political and societal context is needed. Avant-garde has become a complicated term in the twentieth-century, because in the history of art different kinds of avant-garde schools existed e. See also Bourdieu , who is discussed later this paragraph. In addition, authors like Clark were criticized for losing sight of formal qualities of artworks and having a narrow view on Modernism.

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The field of visual culture is quite extensive, as it could relate to any visual object in a certain culture, so there are different ideas on what this field should enclose or aim for, as for instance the Journal of Visual Culture illustrates. In addition, the further in time the historian is removed from his subject, the more difficult it is to give an accurate reconstruction, which is reason for Didi-Huberman in his [] Confronting Images to argue for anachronism and subjectivism.

He thus embraced the distance and read a historic picture as a presentation, meaning as an object of the present, than as a representation of a historical moment. Also readers with collected essays on Visual Culture do not give an unequivocal idea, e.

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Nicholas Mirzoeff ed. One can mention W. Mitchell here as well, an important figure in the visual studies discipline, who in his What Do Pictures Want? The artist with a certain background disposition worked in the corresponding field of production and for the corresponding field of consumption, which decided how his work was perceived. One alteration on the field resulted automatically in new proportions to which the artists could only react.

Some of the mechanisms that determine these changes have become incomprehensible today, argued Bourdieu, but that does not mean that he wished to perform subjectivism and anachronism as well; instead, he chose to find out these mechanisms by outlining the different dynamics at work in the artistic field, both high and low, both avant-garde and bourgeois. In short, Bourdieu positioned the artistic field or field of cultural production in a larger context of two other fields: the field of class relations, that is society, and the field of power, which is positioned on the dominant side of society see Appendix I.

The artistic field is situated on the field of power, on the dominated side and the want? Here, the artist desires symbolic capital, that is, esteem gained within this field; he is either bohemian, meaning young and averse to everything established, or consecrated, meaning established. On the other side is the field of large-scale or mass production, where the economic bourgeoisie is positioned, subjected to the heteronomous market and thus desiring success and economic capital.

This bourgeoisie is again divided into the upper class and the petit or working-class.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's Circus Drawings

The artist could take different positions on the field, which depended on his background as well as on how he was perceived by other actors, like the critic. He argued that reproduction violated the authenticity, or aura, of a work of art, and that consequently the traditional bourgeois notion of art no longer existed, but that mass culture had taken its place.

Since there is an enormous amount of material, a selection was required. Some avant-garde artists, who created important, innovative prints, like Gauguin, Van Gogh and Bernard are rarely found at the discussed print activities, and are therefore only discussed in passing.


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Primarily original prints that were published in group activities are central. This material was found especially through secondary literature sources, such as monographs, correspondence and diary publications. Terminology Finally, a short explanation on the terminology is necessary, as most of the terms in printmaking are confusing and indifferently used over the times.

First, an album was a portfolio with a number of prints and generally similar to a journal, meaning that it was published regularly or least meant to be. The different print activities could refer to both of these meanings, but here only proof in the restricted sense will be used. This will be left unaltered in the translation, when the meaning of the term becomes clear from its context. Some artists also reproduced states to sell to collectors as rare items, which happened regularly in the nineteenth century. As a final note, quotes from French sources are translated to English; unless otherwise indicated, these translations are from the present author.

In the s, this development was already slowly setting in, because artists, especially those connected to Impressionist circles, had a fragile economic position. Since they depended on patrons with either modest resources or only recently acquired wealth, paintings were difficult to sell in the unstable economy of the s, whereas the print offered an interesting alternative. The original print then took form. The original print has therefore always been a troubled term. Secondary literature on nineteenth-century printmaking has not offered a unilateral explanation on how to situate the original print.

In general, it was opposed against mere reproduction printmaking, but most scholars acknowledged that there was no clear definition. In addition, according to Beraldi b, p.

Full text of "The color revolution : color lithography in France, "

Several scholars analyzed the notion of the original print more thoroughly: Gilmour , pp. It entered the realm of high art as well, meaning that a print, that is, the original print, was juxtaposed to painting and lost its functional connotations. In this double hierarchy, Bourdieu distinguished two principles, the heteronomous and autonomous principle, each depending on different types of audiences and success.

Whereas the heteronomous principle was subjected to rules of the market, as it involved the rich bourgeois and poor mass 29 Quoted in Lambert , p. This guideline became more or less adopted worldwide, such as by the Print Council of America in and by the United Kingdom National Committee of the International Association of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers in ; see also Hults , p.

In addition, the chosen technique had to be artisanal, to guarantee that the creator invested his time and individuality in the print, in contrast to impersonal photomechanical techniques. See also Mellerio , pp. Since he came from an artistic family — he was son of a sculptor — he probably benefitted from this disposition, which allowed him the necessary contacts.

The Salon: changing hierarchies In the Salon, a clear hierarchy was maintained, which meant that a distinction was made between painters, sculptors and printmakers, with the first two held in greater respect than the latter. The majority of prints exhibited in the Salon were reproductive 35 For more information on position, position-taking and disposition, see Bourdieu , pp. This made academic art more about narrative than visuality.

He applied a print technique that was normally used in non-artistic spheres of reproduction, and second, it was not an interpretative print. It was based neither on an existing masterwork nor on a historical narrative. The burin was preeminently appropriate to accomplish such finesse and amount of details, contrary to the rougher technique of the wood engraving.