Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wonder of Color

Today I saw a male Rufus Hummingbird.  He was a brilliant iridescent copper.  I love color.  People have argued over color for ages.. Ingres said:  "Enough of blazing color, it is anti-historical!"  The thinking of Ingres's time was that the highest form of art was historical statement....and all else was second class ( like portraits, figures, still life, landscapes, etc).  Telling a story was it!  He believed that "open color" was definitely at odds with the "high calling" of the artist.
Open color consists of two major elements:
1.  Taking the color outside the boundaries of line and form
2.  The use of color different than found in the actual motif.
To further consider the statement of Ingres, here is the thinking of Constable:  "The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth."  He believed that reality was paramount, nothing should differ from the 'true' color of something...or someone.
"Open Color" was out!!
Of course there are many other artists who did not go along with Ingres or Constable.  Like Gauguin:  "It matters not whether the haystack is yellow or purple, we shall paint it red if we wish."  He felt that there was another calling on the same level as historical statement: decoration.  In the words of Maurice Denis, " a painting should decorate."
Even today there is arguing from these two different camps: the commercial establishment saying that truth, reality, and a messsage are important.....and the fine art establishment saying that imagination, distortion, and beauty are important.  One group detested 'blazing color' the other loved it!
Why did they love color?
Delacroix said, "Color has a much more mysterious and perhaps powerful force.  It acts so to speak in spite of us."
Charles Beaudelarie explained, "It seems as if this color thinks by itself independently of the subkects which it clothes."
Van Gogh said: "I use color in an arbitrary manner to express myself strongly."
Oh!  The Wonder of Color!

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