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Color is not unchanging; it is just created

Posted April. 30, 2022 07:20,   

Updated April. 30, 2022 07:20


The end of the world was always blue. The other side of the horizon before humanity started sailing in the ocean meant an uncharted world. The most expensive color by far, regardless of age, was azure or ‘ultramarine.’ Merchants in Venice during the 13th century would call blue pigment made by griding azure stone from Afghanistan ‘Oltremare.’ It meant ‘imported’ across the ocean in Italy.

The author, an art history professor at Immanuel College at Cambridge University, tells a story of social culture on seven colors including black, white and blue by addressing diverse disciplines encompassing psychology, linguistics and paleoanthropology. The book includes such interesting topics as lyric of ancient Persians, ‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton, and art history regarding colors and hues.

To the author, “color is not noun but verb.” The book starts with the fundamental question raised by Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. ‘What does it mean to become a color?’ French impressionist Paul Cezanne said, “Color is the place where our brain encounters the world.” The author believes that color does not exists in itself but it is a creation made by people who use it. As an example, green means ‘jealousy’ in the English-speaking world, but it means fear in France, furor in Thailand and boredom in Russia. He argues the meaning of color is created according to era and culture.

However, just as the author’s argument “The meaning of color is created by people who see and use it,” color looks different to people who wish to look differently. They call new trend resisting to the privileged class ‘the new black’ in today’s world is because of those artists who used black that would be used for depicting the devil throughout the canvas in art history, and human rights activists who resisted discrimination. The history of color has become more diverse by dismantling the narrowminded thinking.