Laura Anne Kalba will be coming to speak at the Françoise and Georges Selz Lectures on 18th- and 19th-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Tuesday, December 3, 2013. Her talk is entitled “Polychromatic Pleasures: Decorating with Color in Nineteenth-Century France.”

Laura Anne Kalba is Assistant Professor of Art at Smith College. She earned her B.A. in History and Liberal Arts from Concordia University, her M.A. in History from McGill University, and her Ph.D. in History from the University of Southern California. Her research focuses primarily on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European art, architecture, and popular commercial visual culture. Her publications on these topics include “How Media Were Made: Chromolithography in Belle Époque France,” History and Technology, vol. 24, Issue 4 (December 2011); “Blue Roses and Yellow Violets: Flowers and the Cultivation of Color in Nineteenth-Century France,” Representations, vol. 120, Issue 1 (September 2012); and “Fireworks and Other Profane Illuminations: Color and the Experience of Wonder in Modern Visual Culture,” Modernism/Modernity, vol. 19, Issue 4 (November 2012). In 2012, she worked as a curatorial consultant for the Smith College Museum of Art’s exhibition Debussy’s Paris: Art, Music, and Sounds of the City ( Her book project, Color in the Age of Impressionism: Technology, Commerce, and Art, examines the impact of new color technologies on French visual and material culture, from the early commercialization of synthetic dyes (1857) to the Lumière brothers’ perfection of the autochrome photography process (1907).

Generally associated with the Art Nouveau’s sinuous lines, late nineteenth-century France was also a period painted, dyed, printed, and enamelled with color. Focusing on the decorative arts reformers’ extensive writings on color and the material and visual culture of the period, Kalba’s talk at the BGC will highlight how, at the turn of the twentieth century, tastemakers sought to harness the color revolution of the previous decades—associated with aniline dyes, cheap chromos, gaudy wallpapers, and the uncouth tastes of the rising bourgeoisie—turning it to something at once more pleasurable, more permanent, and more markedly French.

Light refreshments will be served at 5:45 pm. The presentation will begin at 6:00 pm.

RSVP is required.

PLEASE NOTE that our Lecture Hall can only accommodate a limited number of people, so please come early if you would like to have a seat in the main room. Registrants who arrive late may be seated in an overflow viewing area.