Color Chart

CHAPTER 5: Color signatures

Between 7th– 3rd century BCE, Greek potters predominantly worked in one of two techniques, black-figure pottery followed by red-figure pottery. These two techniques defined a period when mythical stories were depicted and artists—or groups of artists—were identified by their distinct styles. Take for instance the Amphora from circa 510 BCE in the black-figure style attributed to the Leagros Group and the Wine Mixing Vessel circa 475 BCE in the red-figure style attributed to the “Pig Painter.” Artists are sometimes defined by a single color. Sam Francis limited his color palette, preferring dramatic pops of color in large expanses of white. The most prominent color in his work is cobalt blue, seen here in Blue in Motion II. Édgar Negret’s sculptures were done mainly in fire-engine red and Jo Baer applied black bands along the edges of her paintings, leaving the center white. Baer paired the bands with a thin strip color like in Horizontal Tiered. The placement of color creates an optical illusion for the viewer, making the painting fluoresce.

Black-Figure Neck Amphora

Attributed to the Leagros Group

Black-Figure Neck Amphora
45.6 cm (17 15/16 in.)
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund and the James R. Dougherty, Jr. Foundation, 1980

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, drives a four-horse chariot. The overlapping horses are laboriously rendered with incisions. Athena was also the goddess of defensive warfare, which might connect her with the battle scene on the other side of the vase. Two hoplites (armored foot soldiers) advance over a third who kneels. The warrior on the left carries a Boeotian shield with scooped indentations that allow him to thrust his weapon more effectively while protecting himself.

Red-Figure Column Krater (Wine Mixing Vessel)

Attributed to the Pig Painter

Red-Figure Column Krater (Wine Mixing Vessel)
40.5 cm (15 15/16 in.)
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund and the James R. Dougherty, Jr. Foundation, 1980

Ariadne, the daughter of the mythical king Minos of Crete, steps into a four-horse chariot. Dionysus stands behind the horses, holding a vine branch and a kantharos (wine cup). In Greek myth, he rescued Ariadne after Theseus, the Athenian prince whom she helped to defeat the Minotaur, abandoned her. Depicted on the other side are two athletes working with a trainer. The athlete on left holds a javelin; the other clutches halteres (jumping weights). The forked staff indicates that the clothed man in the center is the trainer.

Blue in Motion II

Sam Francis
San Mateo, California, 1923 - 1994, Santa Monica, California

Blue in Motion II
115.6 cm x 89 cm (45 1/2 in. x 35 1/16 in.)
Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1991

El puente [The Bridge]

Edgar Negret
Popayán, Colombia, 1920 -

El puente [The Bridge]
Painted aluminum sculpture
59.5 cm x 275.5 cm x 73.5 cm (23 7/16 in. x 108 7/16 in. x 28 15/16 in.)
Gift of Arlene Bobker, 1978

Edgar Negret was among the first Colombian artists to develop an international profile. He spent many years working in Paris and New York, where he befriended Ellsworth Kelly and other abstract artists in his circle. When Negret returned to Bogotá in 1963, he was already constructing modular sculptures with painted metal sheets joined together with visible screws and nuts. "El puente" combines industrial materials with an organic sense of form.

This art object can not be displayed

Image credit:
Richard Pettibone
Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, 1973 (detail)
Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, six panels
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art, with generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2008