Living in Color: The Explosion of Color in American Printmaking, 1935-1965


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


Humanities and Social Sciences


Between 1935 and 1965, color became an increasingly pervasive feature of American life. Innovations in printing technology allowed newspapers and magazines to reproduce images in full color; color comic books rapidly gained popularity; Technicolor films like “The Wizard of Oz” became blockbusters; and Kodachrome/Kodacolor enabled Americans to capture everyday moments in home movies and photos. During this same period, a dramatic shift occurred in the graphic arts, with artists moving from black-and-white printmaking toward vibrant color. Drawing on interdisciplinary sources, this book project overlays a comprehensive survey of midcentury color prints with in-depth study of visual and material culture, bringing alive the period’s cultural environment and commercial marketplace. The project also reshapes narratives about the transition from postwar abstraction to pop art, demonstrating that midcentury color printmaking laid important and yet-unrecognized groundwork for pop artists’ practice of color lithography and screenprinting.