van Eyck, Portrait of a Man, 1433
“Red,” writes historian Michel Pastoureau in Red: The History of a Color, “is the archetypal color, the first color humans mastered, fabricated, reproduced, and broke down into different shades.” As such, it dominated visual culture for centuries. With the advent of the Protestant Reformation, however, people began to view the shade as gaudy, even immoral, and its preeminence began to fade. Today, both blue and green surpass red as the West’s favorite colors.
But the bold hue—whether crimson, vermilion, cardinal, or scarlet—still retains power. Red artworks fetch the highest prices at auction. Red is the color of revolution, of seduction. And its story is far from over. The scientists who last year announced the discovery of a new blue pigment are now hunting for a never-before-seen red. From some of humanity’s earliest cave paintings to Mark Rothko’s immersive abstract canvases, here is a brief history of red in art.
Blue ... HERE.