While popular in the 1700s and into the 1800s, work in the medium of pastels was considered synonymous with fragility and with femininity, and a “pastelist” was seen as an artist who veered away from traditional oil painting—at the cost of status and posterity. This began to change in the mid 1800s, when the hands that grabbed the pastel stick belonged to Eugène Boudin, Odilon Redon, and Edgar Degas. Major reappraisal and embrace of the medium came with the 20th century. Focusing on this moment, and on the artists who used and approved of pastels—including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró—“Touching Color” celebrates the power of the pastelist. —E.C.
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