In the Western world blue was a latecomer to be used in art, design and even dying fabric. Making good blue dye was difficult. For centuries plants were most commonly used to create blue dyes, plants like woad and indigo were popular in Europe and Asia. The arrival of lapis lazuli in Venice changed everything.
|Ancient Egyptian figurine in Egyptian Blue|
Ancient Egyptians created the very first synthetic blue known as Egyptian Blue by grinding lime, silica, copper and alkali together.
For the Ancient Egyptians blue would protect the dead from evil in the afterlife. It was used for funerary urns, statuary and figurines. They also dyed the fabric a mummy was wrapped in blue.
|Saint Denis Basilica, Paris|
|Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy|
|Bellini, Lochis Madonna, abt 1470-75|
|Giotto, Arena Chapel, 1305|
|Titian, Pesaro Altarpiece, 1519-1526|
|Some examples from Picasso's Blue Period|
Other artists, like Gauguin and Van Gogh, used blue to represent “deepest emotion”.
|Kandinsky, Der Blaue Reiter,1903 & Marc, Tower of Blue Horses, 1913|
The Movement is also the title of a Kandinsky painting from 1903. The name Blaue Reiter (“blue rider”) refers to a key motif in Kandinsky’s work: the horse and rider, which was for him a symbol for moving beyond realistic representation. The horse was also a prominent subject in Marc’s work, which centered on animals as symbols of rebirth.
For Kandinsky, the properties of Blue were deep, inner, supernatural, peaceful “Sinking towards black, it has the overtone of a mourning that is not human.”
|Klein, Various art pieces, Pompidou Center, Paris|
|The Leap Into the Void, 1960|
In conclusion, is it any wonder that we as human beings are so entranced by the color blue, it is after all, the color of our planet.
|Bill Anders, Earthrise,1968|
On December 24, 1968 as the astronauts of Apollo 8 were taking pictures of the moon, Bill Anders happened to look at the window and see the Earth and is rose over the moon's horizon. He took the picture above, forever changing humankind's view of Earth and our place in the Universe.
RECENTLY—Ken Murphy, a computer programmer built a rig to photograph the sky once every 10 seconds for a year. The resulting time-lapse video collage is a kaleidoscope of shifting weather patterns. Murphy’s project is one of more than 150 featured in The Art of Tinkering. (link and video)
We hope you enjoyed this episode on the color Blue. Next week Alisha and Jo will be talking about Scottish Ruins!