Masters of the Pochoir
A tour d'horizon, by Paul Zwartkruis (Netherlands)
For The Writer's Drawer
<<< Hand movements with the pompom at the Jacomet atelier
Pochoir: “the most versatile and luxurious reproduction process in modern time"
John Bidwell, curator of the Graphic Arts Collection at Firestone Library
Picasso, Braque, Van Dongen, Miro, Matisse, Dufy, Léger, Modigliani, Rouault and many other artists worked in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. They asked other people to make hand-crafted illustrations of their work – pochoirs. The artists had rediscovered this technique, which is of Japanese origin. They thus added an unparalleled quality to contemporary colour illustrations.
Pochoirs are highly realistic, manual reproductions of works of art. But it was not the artist himself who made the pochoirs. The technique was far too complicated. In about 50 specialized workshops in Paris female colourists produced these gems, which are characterized by a marvellous vibrancy of colour. Various templates, brushes and paint (water-gouache, silver or gold paint) were used in order to achieve this effect. For a simple pochoir, some figures or texts were cut from thin metal foil or plastic. These stencils were then placed on paper or some other surface. Nowadays, street artists such as Banksy and Vhils frequently use this reproduction technique when creating their art.