Color As Subject

Color Chart

CHAPTER 4: Color as subject

In the twentieth century, several artists focused on color above everything else. Thomas Moran captured the fleeting hue of a Wyoming sunset in The Golden Hour. In Synchromy in Purple Minor, Stanton Macdonald-Wright went a step further and looked to color, music, and abstraction for inspiration. The result was a movement cofounded with the artist Morgan Russell called Synchromism. Alfred Jensen combined color theory with astronomy to depict the movement of celestial bodies in his painting Aurora, Per III: Daily Color Progression. Ellsworth Kelly and Brice Marden explored color in two distinct ways. Kelly, for example, complemented primary and secondary colors in High Yellow, while Marden composed his colors in Fave by applying several layers of pigment and beeswax. Their emotionally detached investigations were in stark contrast to their predecessors whom used color as a vehicle for expression.

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

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