Blue has a long and topsy-turvy history in the Western world. Once considered a hot color, it is now icy cool. The ancient Greeks scorned it as ugly and barbaric, but most Americans and Europeans now pick it as their favorite color. In this entertaining history, the renowned medievalist Michel Pastoureau traces the changing meanings of blue from its rare appearances in prehistoric art to its international ubiquity today in blue jeans and Gauloises cigarette packs.Any history of color is, above all, a social history. Pastoureau investigates how the ever-changing role of blue in society has been reflected in manuscripts, stained glass, heraldry, clothing, paintings, and popular culture. Beginning with the almost total absence of blue from ancient Western art and language, the story moves to medieval Europe. As people began to associate blue with the Virgin Mary, the color entered the Church despite the efforts of chromophobic prelates.Bluewas reborn as a royal color in the twelfth century and functioned as a formidable political and military force through the French Revolution. As blue triumphed in the modern era, new shades were created, and blue became the color of romance. Finally, Pastoureau follows blue into contemporary times, when military clothing gave way to the everyday uniform of blue jeans, and blue became the universal and unifying color of the Earth as seen from space.With an exceptionally elegant design and strikingly illustrated with one hundred color plates,Bluetells the fascinating history of our favorite color and the cultures that have hated it, loved it, and created great art with it.
Black--favorite color of priests and penitents, artists and ascetics, fashion designers and fascists--has always stood for powerfully opposed ideas: authority and humility, sin and holiness, rebellion and conformity, wealth and poverty, good and bad. In this beautiful and richly illustrated book, the acclaimed author of Blue now tells the fascinating social history of the color black in Europe. In the beginning was black, Michel Pastoureau tells us. The archetypal color of darkness and death, black was associated in the early Christian period with hell and the devil but also with monastic virtue. In the medieval era, black became the habit of courtiers and a hallmark of royal luxury. Black took on new meanings for early modern Europeans as they began to print words and images in black and white, and to absorb Isaac Newton's announcement that black was no color after all. During the romantic period, black was melancholy's friend, while in the twentieth century black (and white) came to dominate art, print, photography, and film, and was finally restored to the status of a true color. For Pastoureau, the history of any color must be a social history first because it is societies that give colors everything from their changing names to their changing meanings--and black is exemplary in this regard. In dyes, fabrics, and clothing, and in painting and other art works, black has always been a forceful--and ambivalent--shaper of social, symbolic, and ideological meaning in European societies. With its striking design and compelling text, Black will delight anyone who is interested in the history of fashion, art, media, or design.
In this beautiful and richly illustrated book, the acclaimed author of Blue and Black presents a fascinating and revealing history of the color green in European societies from prehistoric times to today. Examining the evolving place of green in art, clothes, literature, religion, science, and everyday life, Michel Pastoureau traces how culture has profoundly changed the perception and meaning of the color over millennia--and how we misread cultural, social, and art history when we assume that colors have always signified what they do today. Filled with entertaining and enlightening anecdotes, Green shows that the color has been ambivalent: a symbol of life, luck, and hope, but also disorder, greed, poison, and the devil. Chemically unstable, green pigments were long difficult to produce and even harder to fix. Not surprisingly, the color has been associated with all that is changeable and fleeting: childhood, love, and money. Only in the Romantic period did green definitively become the color of nature. Pastoureau also explains why the color was connected with the Roman emperor Nero, how it became the color of Islam, why Goethe believed it was the color of the middle class, why some nineteenth-century scholars speculated that the ancient Greeks couldn't see green, and how the color was denigrated by Kandinsky and the Bauhaus. More broadly, Green demonstrates that the history of the color is, to a large degree, one of dramatic reversal: long absent, ignored, or rejected, green today has become a ubiquitous and soothing presence as the symbol of environmental causes and the mission to save the planet. With its striking design and compelling text, Green will delight anyone who is interested in history, culture, art, fashion, or media.
Before 1856, the color in our lives -- the reds, blues, and blacks of clothing, paint, and print -- came from insects or mollusks, roots or leaves; and dyeing was painstaking and expensive. But in 1856 eighteen-year-old English chemist William Perkin accidentally discovered a way to mass-produce color in a factory. Working on a treatment for malaria in his London home laboratory, Perkin failed to produce artificial quinine. Instead he created a dark oily sludge that turned silk a beautiful light purple. Mauve became the most desirable shade in the fashion houses of Paris and London, but its importance extended far beyond ball gowns. It sparked new interest in industrial applications of chemistry research, which later brought about the development of explosives, perfume, photography, and modern medicine. With great wit, scientific savvy, and historical scope, Simon Garfield delivers a fascinating tale of how an accidental genius set in motion an extraordinary scientific achievement.
Paint and Color in Decoration celebrates the work of some of the greatest names in interior design, from Robert Adam to David Hicks, and reveals the techniques and materials they pioneered. It is a fascinating history of 400 years of paint, color, and decorative style from Farrow & Ball, the world's leading manufacturer of traditional and modern fine paints. This volume explores the process of making fine paints and the varying effects produced by different formulations, finishes, and painting methods. Through a wealth of illustrations and in-depth analysis, the book demonstrates what we all instinctively know: color is an essential element in interior design and decoration. The colors have names almost as rich as the history of the houses they adorn, with Passage Yellow, Feasting Green, and Cook's Blue among a panoply of hues whose origins and adaptations for the home are described here in detail. A source of inspiration for professional and amateur decorators and interior designers alike, Paint and Color in Decoration contains a wealth of ideas and practical information at a time when historic paints have never been more in fashion.
A Perfect Red recounts the colorful history of cochineal, a legendary red dye that was once one of the worlds most precious commodities. Treasured by the ancient Mexicans, cochineal was sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, producing the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen. Soon Spains cochineal monopoly was worth a fortune. Desperate to find their own sources of the elusive dye, the English, French, Dutch, and other Europeans tried to crack the enigma of cochineal. Did it come from a worm, a berry, a seed? Could it be stolen from Mexico and transplanted to their own colonies? Pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies -- all joined the chase for cochineal, a chase that lasted more than three centuries. A Perfect Red tells their stories -- true-life tales of mystery, empire, and adventure, in pursuit of the most desirable color on earth.
Blood, rust, lava, wine--the flush of passion and the glow of approaching night--no color arrests our attention more than the color red. Today it is the flag of danger and seduction, of spirit and revolution, but throughout nearly all of human history it has held a special place in our aesthetics. In this book, Spike Bucklow brings us into the heart of this fiery hue to better understand the unique powers it has had over us. Bucklow takes us from a thirty-four-thousand-year-old shaman burial dress to the iPhone screen, exploring the myriad of purposes we have put red to as well as the materials from which we have looked to harvest it. And we have looked for it everywhere, from insects to tree resin to tar to excitable gasses. Bucklow also details how our pursuit of the color drove medieval alchemy and modern chemistry alike, and he shows us red's many symbolic uses, its association with earth, blood, and fire, its coloring of caves and the throne rooms of goddesses, as well as national flags, fire trucks, power grids, and stoplights. The result is a material and cultural history that makes one see this color afresh, beating with vibrancy, a crucial part of the human visual world.
Today, with the advent of 'millennial pink', the colour formerly associated with Barbie has acquired a new identity. Nor is this the first time the symbolism of pink has been radically transformed. In this volume, in collaboration with a major exhibition at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, curator and fashion historian Valerie Steele explores the history and significance of pink in fashion, art and culture from the 18th century to the present. Steele and her co-authors tell the whole story of his controversial colour, emphasizing how its meanings changed throughout the centuries and across the globe, in cultures as diverse as France, India, Japan, Mexico and the United States. In 18th-century France, men and women alike wore pink, which was a fashionably 'new' colour. A century later, however, pink had become feminized and eroticized in the West (although it took longer for pink-versus-blue gender coding to develop). Pink is beautifully illustrated, with illustrations of stunning pink fashions given context by photographs, advertisements and works of art. It features essays by scholars across the disciplines, giving readers access to a wealth of research into subjects as diverse as Hollywood films and the symbolism of the pink triangle. This book will appeal to all those interested in fashion and culture, as well as those who love pink.
For centuries, blue and purple dyed fabrics ranked among the ancient world's most desirable objects, commanding many times their weight in gold. Few people knew their secrets, carefully guarding the valuable knowledge, and strict laws regulated their production and use. The Rarest Blue tells the incredible story of tekhelet, the elusive sky-blue color mentioned throughout the Bible. Minoans discovered it; Phoenicians stole it; Roman emperors revered it; and Jews--obeying a commandment to affix a thread of it to their garments--risked their lives for it. But as the Roman Empire dissolved, the color vanished. Then, in the nineteenth century, a marine biologist marveled as yellow snail guts smeared on a fisherman's shirt turned blue. But what had caused this incredible transformation? Meanwhile, a Hasidic master obsessed with the ancient technique posited that the source of the dye was no snail but a squid. Bitter controversy divided European Jews until a brilliant rabbi proved one side wrong. But had an unscrupulous chemist deceived them? In this richly illustrated book, Baruch Sterman brilliantly recounts the amazing story of this sacred dye that changed the color of history.
Colour in the Making is a visual history of art and design told through the materials of color—from the discovery and use of early earth pigments through lakes to organic chemistry and into contemporary dyes, inks, printing techniques and manufacture. Throughout this sumptuously colorful book artists’ and designers’ projects illustrate the often behind the scenes inventions and processes of color-making. In doing so Colour in the Making, through its international and deep exploration of the field of color, shows that art and science have always been inextricably linked.
There are wonderful resources available on the history, theory and techniques of working in color. The items listed in this research guide can provide a starting point, and in many instances, you can find other editions of these books, and similar works by searching the library catalog