In the Library: The Intersection of Commerce and Instruction in Art

February 22 – June 3, 2016

The art we experience often depends as much upon the materials available to the artists who make it as it depends on the artists themselves. This exhibition looks at a variety of literature surrounding artists’ materials and instruction, and charts the ways in which the increasing commercialization of their production may have affected the practice of artists, especially following the industrial revolution. From trade catalogs to instruction manuals, these books give us clues about the materials and techniques artists were using at a given time. This allows today’s scholars and conservators alike to better understand the physical attributes of the artworks they study and preserve. In ages past, merchants would supply raw materials; artists, to a large degree, controlled the fabrication of usable tools from those materials on a relatively small scale, grinding their own pigments to make paint and fashioning pencils and brushes based on techniques handed down from master to apprentice in an artist’s workshop