Blue has always been the most beguiling colour for artists. As a pigment, blue is extremely rare in nature, despite being all around us. We will never be able to touch the blueness of the sea or the sky. For this reason, blue has always been the colour of an entirely new world beyond our own.
For a long time in history, there was little blue to be seen. The Ancient Greeks did not even have a name for the colour. The seas were often pictured green on maps. So when at the end of the Middle Ages a bright blue stone became available in Europe, it changed art in dramatic ways. The stone was named 'lapis-lazuli', and was made into the paint 'ultramarine', which translates to 'from across the seas', since it had originated Afghanistan.
Prior to this, blue was almost never used in art. Soon the Church sought to control the use of the colour, so that it was only used for the most divine parts of paintings. For a while, it had became even more expensive and rare than gold.
During the Age of Romanticism, blue was known as the colour of our deepest feelings. It remained this way when the impressionists repeatedly called for blue when they tapped into their most profound emotions. Later, Picasso chose this colour during the mourning of the suicide of his best friend, known as his blue period.
Yves Klein even made his own blue, the colour being the art itself. He wanted to leave this world behind, with blue representing the infinite. Just how looking to the sky or sea evokes infinity. Decades later, artists such as the Dutch Daan van Golden were still utilising for the same reasons.
Blue has always been the colour of a world beyond our own. Yet it was only until 1968 that we were able to see what the Earth looked like from outer space. It was then that we learned that blue was actually the colour of our home. Due to its extensive use in art history, blue continues to be a colour that artists choose when visualizing something of our imagination, out of reach, at a distance or divine.
In this group exhibition, we’ve selected only blue art works that show the significance and importance of the colour. You can see how Corbijn printed a photograph in monochromatic blue, how Casper Braat chose for a blue colour coating to depict his divine superhero sculpture, how Thijs Zweers changed his black charcoal for blue pencils, how Akkerman painted his self-portrait using nothing but blues and of course what Klein’s custom made IKB paint looks like in real life.