For Decoration and Agitation: An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art

For Decoration and  Agitation:
An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art

Curated by Jared Ash, Special Collections Division

On view
Nov. 16, 2011 – Jan. 28, 2012

Main Library
Third Floor Gallery

<font “=”” size=”3″ face=”Arial” color=”#FF9900″>Exhibition

<font “=”” size=”3″ face=”Arial” color=”#FF9900″>Related events

Velonis, Memory of the Depression Anthony Velonis, Memory of the Depression, 1985; screen print and pochoir. Gift of Anthony Velonis, 1987.


Seguy, Papillons
Émile-Allain Séguy, detail of pochoir plate from Papillons (Butterflies); portfolio, 1925. Library purchase, 1926

<font “=”” size=”5″ face=”Special Elite” color=”#FF9900″>Exhibition

For centuries, artists and craftspeople have used stencils to create, color, and replicate patterns and images. To most people, stencils are regarded as tools for commercial, utilitarian, and ornamental applications, such as simulating antique folk–art designs on walls and furniture; copying patterns for pumpkin carving; marking shipping containers, or painting house numbers on curbs and mailboxes. In the third floor gallery of the Newark Public Library, a new exhibition seeks to expand popular awareness of stencil as a fine art medium, and as an agent of political and social activism.

Miro, Untitled
Joán Miró, Untitled (Illustration for Cahiers d’Art);, 1934; pochoir. Library purchase, 1936.

For Decoration and Agitation: An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art explores the use of stencils by artists around the world in creating and coloring prints and illustrations, from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The exhibition features work by 60 artists and is drawn almost entirely from the holdings of the Library’s Special Collections Division. Major areas represented in the exhibition include book and journal illustration (children’s literature, fine press, and fashion design), hand-made paper, fine art prints, artists’ books, and broadsides.

The term pochoir, which means “stencil” in French, generally refers to a practice of applying color to black and white printed images, by using short, stubby brushes, gouache or watercolor paint, and a series of stencils. Pochoir is a labor-intensive, “fine stencil” process, generally involving 20 to 30 individual stencils for a single image, and occasionally up to as many as 250. Offering a vibrancy and vitality not achievable through mechanical color printing processes, pochoir flourished between 1910 and 1935, and was embraced eagerly by artists associated with Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Cubism.

Mayakovsky, ROSTA
Vladimir Mayakovsky, ROSTA [Russian Telegraph Agency] Window Series no. 539, 1920; hand–stenciled watercolor and gouache. On loan from the June and Robert Leibowits Collection, NY.

The exhibition features a wide range of works, a sampling of which includes: original late 19th–century Japanese stencils used for textile designs; propaganda posters created by Vladimir Mayakovsky and Ivan Maliutin in 1920 for the Russian Telegraph Agency in Moscow; Cubist and Surrealist prints and illustrated books by Albert Gleizes, Henri Matisse, and Joán Miró; sumptuous Art Deco fashion books, journals, and design portfolios illustrated or designed by Georges Barbier, Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape, Émile-Allain Séguy, and M.P. Verneuil; and a limited-edition, vinyl, anthropomorphic can of spray paint designed by Shepard Fairey.

A companion exhibition, B-Boys and Butterflies: The Stencil Art of Jerry Gant, is featured in the fourth floor gallery, and also runs through January 21, 2012.

Stain, Untitled
Chris Stain, Untitled, 2011; stencil, spray–paint on paper. Gift of the artist, 2011.

A complete listing of artists and organizations included in the exhibition is as follows: Peter Arakawa, Guy Arnoux, Berthold Audsley, Georges Barbier, Bill Barrell, Book Bombs (Mary Tasilo and Michelle Wilson), the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions, Umberto Brunelleschi, Florence Cannon, the Combat Paper Project (represented by Combat Papermakers Jesse Albrecht, Chris Arendt, and Jon Michael Turner), Robert Coulouma, Anuradha Das, Sonia Delaunay, André Derain, Gale Deery, William Addison (W.A.), Dwiggins, Shepard Fairey, Josh Fendell, Atelier Ferrariello, Serge Gladky, Albert Gleizes, Heinrich Hoffmann, Paul Iribe, the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative (represented by Josh MacPhee, Roger Peet, Shaun Slifer, Chris Stain, and Swoon), E. McKnight Kauffer, Jane Kent, Yasuhide Kobashi, Fernand Léger, Anne McKeown, Bernd Melchers, Bruno Munari, Maud Oakes (after Jeff King), Kichiemon Okamura, Sigismond Olesiewicz, Lorenzo Pace, Audrey Parr, Jean Saudé, Émile-Allain (E.A.) Séguy, Keisuke Serizawa, Zofia Stryjeńska, Hiromitsu Takahashi, Alfred Tolmer, Andrew White Tuer, Anthony Velonis, Maurice Pillard Verneuil, Deborah Weier, and Emmet Williams.

Related events

• An Evening with Jerry Gant
Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 6:00-8:00pm
Main Library, Centennial Hall
Presented by the Friends of the Newark Public Library

6:30pm: Screening of the documentary, Bulletproof Ambition: the Art and Courage of Jerry Gant by Jerry Gant and Timothy Brown (Brown70Films, 2009, 29 min), followed by a discussion with the artist.

Original and unique works of art, objects, and jewelry designed by Jerry Gant will be available for viewing and purchase before and after the screening.

RSVP appreciated: 973-733-7793

• Stencil Workshop for All Ages with Jerry Gant and Friends
Saturday, December 17, 2011, 1:00-4:00pm
Main Library, Auditorium

Whether you’re a stencil master, or a first-timer, this event is sure to delight! Why spend time and money shopping for holiday cards when you can make your own with us? Step up your protest sign-making game, or re-awaken your slumbering creativity. Drop in anytime between 1:00-4:00pm. All materials provided, and it’s completely free! And you get to hang with Jerry Gant: who could ask for more?

All programs are free & open to the general public. For additional information about the exhibition or programs, please call 973-733-7745 (Special Collections Division), or email