Consistently, the color blue continues to be the world’s most popular color and is one of the most universally appealing colors on the spectrum. Blue has been worn for thousands of years, from royals to barbarians and modern-day workers, and, when it came to painting, blue was the rarest and most valued shade.
Blue is also a significant color in biblical images, where the Virgin Mary was almost always painted wearing blue, making the color synonymous with purity, humility, and divinity. With many shades considered to be blue, International Klein Blue or IKB was registered as a trademark by French artist Yves Klein between 1947 and 1957. He considered IKB to be the purest form of blue and deep ultramarine became his signature. Historically reserved for royals and artists, today blue textile dyes and pigments are mainly synthetic, making them more affordable and worn by women and men from all social classes.
The pigment blue was also highlighted this year after the debut of a new synthetic chemical blue “YIn Mn” made from yttrium, indium, and manganese oxides. The pigment was first discovered in 2009, making it the first new synthetic blue in 200 years. A hybrid of ultramarine and cobalt, Yln Mn will no doubt be fervently used by artists anticipating the coveted tubes.
The Cross Mackenzie Gallery’s summer exhibition, “Blue: the Color, the Music, and the State of Mind,” acknowledges and appreciates the often solemn and positive connotation of the color blue. Earlier this month, the QAIC team had the opportunity to visit the exhibition.
Several of the artists represented in the show use shades of blue to express a somber state of mind. It evokes feelings of sadness, grief, melancholy, tranquility, and even life. It’s amazing how much can be expressed from just a humble color.
Made with ash embedded in the dirt, Kate Robert’s dust drawings evoke emotions of mourning with images of the California forests that burned in the fires last year. The drawings summon memories of the cremated trees, eloquently bringing the forest back to life. Tim Tate’s tondo illustrated the blue eye of his aunt to convey his blue theme, delivering a heartbreaking image of her as his guardian angel watching over his life as he survives his AIDS diagnosis. The high-tech live video is surrounded by cameo-like flowers, and the talisman is working. Tim Tate is still alive to this day.
Thank you to Cross Mackenzie for hosting us to experience this year’s theme.
Interested in learning more about what blue embodies? You can check out the Cross McKenzie Gallery here.