Monday, February 04, 2008


It is very difficult to describe the relationship an artist has with his colours. You love them for what they give you but you also hate them for the limitations they impose on you. Gradually throughout my career i found myself treating my colours as if they were humans, or at least as if they were alive. You start talking to them, arguing with them and thanking them for loyally serving you.

This weekend I started reading Bright Earth by Philip Ball. Anyone with a slight interest in the history of colour should read it. The book opens with the following quote:

"Then the man in the blue suit reaches into his pocket and takes out a large sheet of paper, which he carefully unfolds and hands to me. It is covered with Picasso's handwriting -- less spasmodic, more studied than usual. At first sight, it resembles a poem. Twenty or so verses are assembled in a column, surrounded by broad white margins. Each verse is prolonged with a dash, occasionally a very long one. But it is not a poem; it is Picasso's most recent order for colors ....

"For once, all the anonymous heroes of Picasso's palette trooped forth from the shadows, with Permanent White at their head. Each had distinguished himself in some great battle -- the blue period, the rose period, cubism, 'Guernica' ... Each could say: 'I too, I was there ...' And Picasso, reviewing his old comrades-in-arms, gives to each of them a sweep of his pen, a long dash that seems a fraternal salute: 'Welcome Persian red! Welcome emerald green! Cerulean blue, ivory black, cobalt violet, clear and deep, welcome! Welcome!'" -- Brassai (1964), Picasso and Company

Just beautiful.

No comments: