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Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Knight, Death and Devil, 1513, engraving. Gift of George W. Davison, 1949.D3.1. Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center (Photo: R. Lee).

Friday, February 5 through Thursday, March 3, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 4, 2016 from 5pm to 7pm (Snow date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 5 pm to 7 pm)

Gallery Talk by student curators at 5pm.


During the fall semester, thirteen students immersed themselves in the Davison Art Center collection and studied its more than 400 German prints created between approximately 1460 and 1600. As part of the Museum Studies course taught by Curator Clare Rogan, the students selected works representing princely power, elaborate ornament, religious and secular passion, and the transmission of the classical past. Artists represented include Albrecht Dürer, Hans Burgkmair, and the “Little Masters.”

by Anya Backlund, Exhibitions Coordinator / ICPP Coordinator

TIMG_0806hanks to all our volunteers!
Over 400 Middletown fourth graders visited Wesleyan this October from Bielefield Elementary School, Farm Hill School, Lawrence School, Macdonough School, Moody Elementary School, Wilbert Snow Elementary School, Bertrand E. Spencer Elementary School and Wesley Elementary School.

Students had a rare chance to play Wesleyan’s 100-year-old Javanese gamelan, an ensemble of wood and bronze percussion instruments, and they then embarked on docent-led tours of Zilkha Gallery and Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Gallery.

In Zilkha, Wesleyan’s contemporary art gallery, students explored alternative kinds of portraiture in the exhibition R. Luke DuBois: In Real Time. At the Freeman Center, students viewed work inspired by ancient Chinese scrolls in the exhibition Tripod Complex and meditated overlooking the Japanese garden after a full morning of art, music, and architecture!

Written by FDAC Board Member Sharifa T. Lookman ’17

Jules Chéret (French, 1836 - 1932). Vin Mariani, 1894. Color lithograph printed in five colors on wove paper. Sheet: 640 mm x 390 mm (25.2 in. x 15.35 in.). Purchase funds, 1966. DAC accession no. 1966.2.1. Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University. http://www.wesleyan.edu/dac/openaccess (photo: M. Johnston).

Jules Chéret (French, 1836 – 1932). Vin Mariani, 1894. Color lithograph printed in five colors on wove paper. DAC accession no. 1966.2.1. Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University. (photo: M. Johnston).

Mid-leap, her voluptuous skirt flies up. The fabric hugs her torso and thighs, while the tail of her skirt billows around her in the movement. She appears mid performance, smiling with blushed cheeks at an invisible audience in the upper left, as she fills a wine glass with a flourish. Her lips form an impish grin: a promise for this perfect drink.

This illustration of youth and levity is an advertisement for “Vin Mariani” wine, executed as a lithograph by French painter and lithographer Jules Chéret in 1894. Though originally schooled in Paris, Chéret was trained in lithography in London, where he was influenced by English posters. Upon returning to France, Chéret pursued poster design and revolutionized propagandist illustration and advertisements for cabarets and theaters, and later commercial products, such as perfume and wine.

In lithography the print is run through the press for each individual color, in this case five times for the colors grey, pink, blue, yellow, and red. Despite the use of so few pigments, the piece represents a rather full and vibrant palette due to the way the different colors overlay and mix with one another. This work exhibits on of Chéret’s great techniques, called crachet, in which the plate is inked sparingly using a tool akin to a toothbrush. This gives a speckled and unsaturated surface, clearly seen in the light blue haze surrounding the central figure. The densest portion of color mixing is evident in the wine bottle itself, accentuating it as the focus of the advertisement. With five colors alone Chéret creates volume and dynamism.

Excellent in technique and captivating to the eyes, this print is representative of a time when art was developing and thriving as a mode of communication. At the core this poster was a means to an end, namely to garner publicity, but its visual presence and dynamism elevates it, like so many 19th century French publicity posters, to an art form that garnered appreciation from its contemporary audience. Today we see this piece in context of its history but, if that is stripped away, it still remains true to its original function and, with vibrancy, health, laughter, and a good glass of wine, makes quite a convincing sales pitch.

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