Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

The Art of Pastel:Three Centuries of Works on Paper

The Art of Pastel:Three Centuries of Works on Paper

Wednesday, June 18, 2014Wednesday, June 25, 2014

6 Mason's Yard
London, SW1Y 6BU United Kingdom

The Art of Pastel:Three Centuries of Works on Paper

Works on Paper dealer Stephen Ongpin and private art adviser Sophie Camu are joining forces to curate an exhibition dedicated to the medium of pastel, spanning the 18th to the 20th Century. They will draw attention to the central importance of pastel in the work of some of the greatest innovators in Western art of the last three centuries, including Carriera, Monet, Vuillard, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley, Munch, Kupka and Hockney, among others. Several works come from private collections and have not been seen on the art market for several decades.

"For too long pastel has been relegated to a second tier position when considering an artist’s creative process" says Sophie, “The bright, velvety qualities of pastel lend themselves to a variety of exploration and inventiveness, which can open up infinite opportunities for artistic expression”.

This selling exhibition will be open during the major summer auction and art fair season in London, as well as forming part of Master Drawings and Sculpture Week (4-­‐11th July 2014).

The History of Pastel:

The earliest 18th Century pastel in the exhibition dates is a very fine depiction of the Virgin Mary by Rosalba Carriera. A Venetian portraitist who was largely self-­‐taught, her pastels are noted for their radiant palette and lustrous tones. Courts across Europe commissioned and collected her portraits, as did visitors on the Grand Tour in Venice.

19th Century France was a remarkably creative period of richness, diversity and experimentation in the art of pastel. Drawings and works on paper were increasingly valued and exhibited as independent works of art in their own right. The exhibition includes several highly finished pastels from this time, most notably a stunning profile Portrait of a Young Breton Woman from Fouesnant by Louise Marie Becq de Fouquières (below) and a dreamlike portrayal of a reclining woman titled Ame d’Automne (Autumn Soul) by Armand Point (shown right).

Pastel reached its apogee with the Impressionists, who were attracted by the wide variety of colours available with which they could capture the bright and transient effects of nature and light. Among the highlights of the strong Impressionist pastels in this exhibition is a highly finished and remarkably fresh view of The Cliffs at Langland Bay, Wales, drawn in 1897 by Alfred Sisley (shown above).

Claude Monet is represented with a significant pastel of Waterloo Bridge in the mist, executed in 1901 from a balcony of the Savoy Hotel where the artist was staying. Having arrived in the city to find that his painting materials were held up at customs, the artist immediately turned to pastels, bought on Charing Cross Road, with which to record the shifting light on the Thames.

The exhibition includes three significant portraits by Camille Pissarro, Eva Gonzalès and Berthe Morisot. Pissarro recorded the thoughtful expression and introspection of a fellow artist in his remarkable Portrait of Ludovic Piette, while the pastel by Gonzalès is a beautiful portrait of her sister Jeanne in her wedding dress.

The medium was brought to new technical heights by Edgar Degas, who used pastel throughout his life as a technique to be lauded for its unique qualities. The exhibition includes two very fine coastal landscapes which are remarkable for their light and weather effects, as well as a highly accomplished and intimate portrayal of a woman drying herself after a bath.

Pastels from the early 20th Century include an expressive seascape by Edvard Munch. The artist exaggerates the colour and visual effects of nature in order to display his heightened emotional response to the environment, as he does in The Scream. At the other end of the spectrum is an early abstract work from the 1920s by Frantisek Kupka. The exhibition rounds off with a beautiful Portrait by David Hockney (shown right) and a large abstract by the American artist Joan Mitchell. These 20th Century works exemplify how pastel has retained a freshness and contemporary quality. Thanks to its synthetic nature, bright colour spectrum and visual effects, pastel has remained relevant to 20th Century artists who still explore the boundaries of experimentation in this medium today.