From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation.
The noun "pastel" gives rise to:
- another noun, for an artwork whose medium is pastels
- a verb, meaning to produce an artwork with pastels
- an adjective, meaning pale in color
Pastel art in art history
The pastel medium was first mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495.
Artists such as Maurice Quentin de La Tour and Rosalba Carriera have been using pastels to create masterpieces as far back as 1703.
In the United States, initially pastels only had occasional use in portraiture. However in the late nineteenth century, pastel (like watercolor) became more popular. The Society of Painters in Pastel was founded in 1885. The Pastellists, led by Leon Dabo, organized in New York in 1910.
Pastels have become popular in modern art because of the medium's broad range of bright colors.