“Color,” wrote the late painter Sam Francis, “is light on fire.” Color’s symbolism, likewise, is thought on fire. Throughout history and across cultures, colors have carried symbolic implications. As writer David Batchelor brilliantly demonstrates in his 2000 book, Chromophobia, saturated colors have traditionally evoked evil and decadence. Minimal or neutral colors, conversely, conveyed purity and austerity. Why is this? And how has this approach manifested in historical, modern, and contemporary art?
In this talk, author and art critic Richard Speer offers analysis that spans philosophy, literature, linguistics, gender studies, music, film, advertising, and the wider arena of popular culture. He also presents strategies for how artists can harness color’s transformative powers.
Speer presented this lecture on Thursday June 20, 2013 in Portland as part of BECon 2013: CHROMA-CULTURE. Angel White and Devil Red: Color’s Symbolism in History, Pop Culture, and Contemporary Glass