Long before we began to associate "noir" with crime movies, it was just a French word for "black." But even then, "noir," was more than just a color; beginning around 1840, French artists began depicting shadowy, often nocturnal or twilight scenes in which forms emerge and sink back into darkness. The Getty is mounting an exhibition of drawings and prints from Rodolphe Bresdin, Maxime Lalanne, Odilon Redon, Georges Seurat and others that examine dream states as well as the use of new—at the time—black drawing materials.
Photograph: Apparition (detail), about 1880–1890. Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916). Charcoal, fusain and black pastel. The J. Paul Getty Museum.