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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Sticking to Color–Pastel Drawings from the MMFA Collection

August 29 through October 25, 2015

EX.pastelsArtists using the medium of pastel (pure pigments pressed into sticks, their textures reminiscent of chalk) often compare the process of building up their drawings to weaving a tapestry of colored strokes. Pastels can be applied and manipulated in many ways. Sometimes artists draw directly on the paper and allow their strokes to retain a grainy, rough texture that reflects the paper’s surface, but those strokes can also easily be blended with fingers, tissues or other tools to create a misty, atmospheric effect. This direct application of pastel color can be used to capture qualities of immediacy, spontaneity and sparkle. Pastel is also frequently combined with water-based media such as watercolor or gouache, or with charcoal to create contrasts in texture as well as color.

In this installation, the Museum will feature a dozen drawings from our works on paper collection that feature the use of pastel. These will range from the approach of early-twentieth century artists such as Frederick Freer, who used pastel to create a sense of heightened realism in light and skin tone, for example, to later artists such as Terry Rosenberg who used the gestural strokes of color to lend elegance to abstract compositions.


Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.

Frederick Warren Freer (American, 1849–1908), Two Ladies at the Seashore, date unknown (detail), pastel on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mrs. Margaret Freer, 1936.53