Sometimes the world feels pretty black and white.
But today, on National Color Day, we’re celebrating all the shades in between. And, to do so, we’re channeling the spirits of some true-blue masters.
Imagine for a moment that you’ve been invited to a swanky cocktail party where all your favorite painters from disparate genres are in attendance. You’re sitting between Frida Kahlo and Paul Gauguin, and across from Vincent Van Gogh. Just as you take a sip of sherry, Picasso stands and blurts out, “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No.”
The room falls silent and then everyone, one by one, opines about the role of color in their painterly lives.
“Color is sensibility in material form, matter in its primordial state,” asserts Yves Klein, confidently.
“[It’s] my daylong obsession, joy and torment,” admits Claude Monet.
To which Paul Gauguin exclaims, “Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.”
“Color is a matter of taste and of sensitivity,” declares Edouard Manet, resolutely.
Wassily Kandinsky pauses for a moment, then adds, “[It’s] a means to exert a direct influence on the soul.”
“Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet,” remarks Paul Klee, exasperatedly.
Georgia O’Keeffe chimes in, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”
“I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness,” asserts Piet Mondrian.
“I don’t start with a color order, but find the colors as I go,” reveals Helen Frankenthaler.
Sonia Delaunay then adds, somewhat oddly, “Color is the skin of the world.”
“I was a child who went about in a world of colors…,” says Frida Kahlo, with a far-off look in her eyes.
Andre Derain seems to agree, adding that “We become intoxicated with color, with words that speak of color, and with the sun that makes colors brighter.”
Collioure by Andre Derain
“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites,” blurts Marc Chagall.
While Mark Rothko, perhaps looking for an argument, offers “If you are moved only by color relationships then you miss the point.”
“One can speak poetry just by arranging colors well,” adds Vincent Van Gogh, under his breath.
Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin then exclaims, “Who told you that one paints with colors? One makes use of colors, but one paints with emotions.”
Just then, when you could cut the tension with a palette knife, Picasso storms out of the house and the cocktail party comes to an abrupt end.
You sigh, take a final swig of your drink and think, it’s just as well. Jackson Pollock’s giving you a ride home and he was ready to leave 30 minutes ago.
(This scene is make believe, but the artist quotes are very real.)