Fifty shades…of BLUE.
Fifty shades…of BLUE.

Fifty shades…of BLUE.

LeZ’ArTs takes you on a journey through the history of the colour blue in art from the Middle Ages to the present day.
This approach to colour, a central theme in the history of art, brings together the different eras in a cross-disciplinary and entertaining way, with works of various kinds (paintings, drawings, manuscripts, objets d’art, sculptures).

Appearance of the term “blue” and current usage. Where does the word “blue” come from? In the biblical texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the only word used is “sapphire”, the favourite stone of the peoples of the Bible. The Romance languages drew on the Germanic word “blau” and the Arabic word “azraq”, and blue was often confused with grey and green. Paradoxically, one of the earliest forms of the word in the 12th century is “blo, bloe”: the English word “blue” therefore comes from French.

The colour blue, in its most popular shades such as Egyptian blue, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, Prussian blue and International Klein blue, has been the protagonist of different eras, during which timeless masterpieces have been created, ranging from the Egyptian world to contemporary art.

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“Moonlight stroll through the rice fields” by Saitō Kazu, a contemporary Nihonga (Japanese style) painter.

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Violin, 1710, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon

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Grus Lindgren

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Glass vase engraved with turquoise seahorse, Guilde des Graveurs sur Verre Exhibition 2012

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Blue Night“, Fransisco  Fonseca, Portugal

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The Moon” stained glass window by Mucha

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Painting by Timothy Adam Matthews, British, born 1980

Fishvase ,Yoshijiro Urushibara.

Yoshijiro Urushibara was a Japanese wood engraver (1888-1953).

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Chefchaouen Chaouen, or the blue city.
A real feast for the eyes,
The magical sound of your river
Takes me back years.
When life was simple and pure.
Like your untainted spring,
The more its water flows the more impure it becomes,
Just as life gathers joys and wounds.
In your narrow streets I go back in time,
In search of my memories of yesteryear,
When we were young and children.
And little by little I hear our laughter and our cries.
The resonance of our hubbub and our footsteps,
Woke up the sleeping town and even the Sayda Hourra.
We were young and numerous,
Scrambling gay and happy.
Some went home in love with girls,
The others from this splendid little town.
Now I return as a pilgrim,
And walk this same path,
Once trodden by boys,
Dreaming and holding hands.
Despite the passage of time, this love shines on,
Like water from your roses and blueberries.
Tarik Bouirdi

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Vincent Van Gogh

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Moon over the Arakawan River, 1929, Kawase Hasui, Japanese, (1883-1957)

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Fleurs de Lys (1907), Robert Lewis Reid, American (1862-1929), private collection.
Portrait of an elegant young woman (probably the artist’s wife) crouching beside a profusion of lilies, painted in 1907 by the much underrated American Impressionist. As always, Reid makes the most of a limited pastel blue palette, echoed in the model’s pale blue eyes, and a swirling composition that finds the model’s dress merging with the flowers to create a clever and effective visual metaphor.

Manolo Valdes was born in Valencia in 1942, and took part in the “Equipo Cronica” pop movement, which was quickly spotted by my grandfather and exhibited in his Barcelona gallery. Manolo then moved to New York, where his work took off. He revisited and paid homage to the fundamentals of art in very large collage paintings or pieces of jute that were sewn, smeared with bitumen and pigments, overloaded with masses of paint, glued and torn. He seems to be waging a relentless battle against art history, as here with his take on Matisse’s “Grand nu couché”.

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Blue Landscape“, Paul Cézanne.

“On blue summer evenings, I’ll go along the paths,
Prickled by the wheat, tread the soft grass:
Dreamily, I will feel its freshness at my feet.
I’ll let the wind bathe my naked head.

I will not speak, I will not think anything:
But infinite love will rise in my soul,
And I’ll go far, far away, like a gypsy,
By Nature, – happy as with a
woman. “
March 1870, Arthur Rimbaud

La Diva” evening dress, in midnight blue velvet and silver metal sequins. Winter 1935-36
Palais Galliera collection © Katerina Jebb, 2014

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Pagoda in the rain“, Kasamatsu Shiro, coloured woodcut, 1932.

Japanese art…delicate…sensual…
The sweetness of rain!

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Mount Fuji in Fine Weather, 1980, by Saitō Kiyoshi (1907 – 1997), a 20th century Japanese creative print artist from Aizu Baye Fukushima area.

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“Maria Callas”, Hyung Koo Kang, 2010.South Korean artist born in 1954 

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Painting by Octavio Occampo

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                                                                “Palazzo Contarini del Zaffo“, 1908, Claude MONET, (1840-1926)

This painting was produced 15 years after the now famous series of 30 views of the portal of Rouen Cathedral, painted between 1892 and 1894.

Monet was 68 when he travelled to Venice with his second wife, Alice.

In the same vein, Monet saw the canvases he painted in Venice as part of a suite, that is to say, a succession of elements relating to different objects, yet belonging to the same referential entity.
“Although I am enthusiastic about Venice and have begun a few canvases there, I am afraid I can only bring back beginnings that will only be memories for me,” he wrote to the art dealer Gaston Bernheim on 25 October.

The number of canvases Monet painted during his only trip to Venice in the autumn of 1908 was fairly small: 37 paintings, which were completed in the studio at Giverny between 1911 and 1912.
The canvas offers us a frontal view, cropped, reducing the façade to an ornamental surface.
The reflection of the palace in the water is also limited to several dark areas.
As in his paintings of water lilies, he composed his canvas using a single colour and its shades.

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Francisco Fonseca, illustrator and street artist, Porto, Portugal.

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                                                                                                   Clyfford Still, 1957.

“When I exhibit a painting, I would like it to say ‘Here I am; here is my presence, my feeling, myself. Here I stand, implacable, proud, alive, naked, fearless.”

Still was a founding member of Abstract Expressionism in the United States. In 1946, another abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko, introduced Still to Peggy Guggenheim, who immediately organised a solo exhibition for him in her New York gallery.

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The sound of the waves, Tam Nightingale.

“God created the sea and painted it blue so that we would look good on it”. Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Work by Christian Schloe.

“Painting is silent poetry and poetry is speaking painting”.
Marie-Philippe Commetti

Femme nue“, Picasso, 1902, therefore at the height of his “blue period”, which began in 1901 with the death of his friend Carlos Casagemas, the colours are cold and the subjects sad.
What a masterpiece! One of Picasso’s finest works, perhaps his most poignant.

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                                                                  Tammam Mohamad (contemporary Syrian artist).

“I believe that friendship, like love, requires almost as much artistry as a successful dance routine.
It requires a lot of impetus and a lot of restraint, a lot of talking and a lot of silence, and above all a lot of respect. And above all, a great deal of respect.
Marguerite Yourcenar, “Les yeux ouverts” (Open Eyes)

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Landscape, Pol Ledent, Belgian painter

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“Three tulips”, Charles Sheeler.

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The Art of Conversation”, René Magritte, 1950

In the crowd, Olivier, don’t come and surprise me any more;
Be there, but without speaking, try to teach me:
Your voice has accents that make me tremble!
Don’t show the love I can’t give you back,
Eyes other than yours watch me blush.

To seek each other out, to catch a glimpse of each other, isn’t that saying it all to each other?
Don’t ask me any more, with a sad smile,
The bouquet I keep while dancing in spite of myself:
It weighs on my heart when my heart desires it,
And you can see in my eyes that it was picked for you.

When I flee, stand in my way;
Our time tomorrow, the flowers of my bodice,
I’ll give you everything before the day is out:
But since we do not love when we are wise,
Beware of my secret, for I have much love!

Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786 – 1859)
“Le secret”
“Poésies”, Poésie/Gallimard, 1996 (reprint).

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Richard Burlet, French painter.

“Blue is a never-ending unconscious dive”. Malcolm de Chazal, 1902-1970, writer and painter.

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Zayasaikhan Sambuu, (contemporary Mongolian artist)

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                                                                                            A work by Karol BAK

“We must continue to dream, to read and to write, which is the most effective way we have found to alleviate our perishable condition, to triumph over the wear and tear of time and to make the impossible possible”.
Mario Vargas Llosa

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Hyde Park Peacock panel by Chong-a Hwang for Timeless Treasures Fabrics.

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Sculpture by Cris Pereby.

Love is the miracle of being heard one day, even in our silences, and of hearing in return with the same delicacy: life in its purest state, as fine as the air that supports the wings of dragonflies and rejoices in their dance. Christian Bodin.

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                                                                          “Blue Nude II” (1952), collage by Henri Matisse

“In the evening of his life, Matisse painted with scissors. He cut out pure wine storms and blue silk springs from the sky. He rediscovered the simple magic of coloured pencils.
Day after day, he picked out the quiet hours, like a child counting his joys one by one before going to sleep. He is old and ill. It is in the years of suffering that it welcomes a star, and it is under the arches of old age that it blooms a childhood.
Night comes to meet him. She has the sweetness of a girl and the freshness of a spring. He paints. He paints as one smiles or as one dies. He follows an impassable and radiant path.

Christian Bobin, “Le huitième jour de la semaine” (The eighth day of the week).

Blue Mural by Christina Angelina @starfightera, Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno, USA. photo Andrea Blasi,@andreablasi__

Tsuchiya Koitsu,Yanagibasi,1934

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars” – R.W Emerson

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Nuit Parisienne, Lynn Shaler (American, born 1955)

“Even if the window is the same, not everyone who looks through it sees the same things: the view depends on the way you look”.

Alda Merini

George Barbier (1882-1932)

Mermaid mascot in opalescent glass with blue patina by René Lalique, 1920.

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                                                                                  “Clio’s dream“, Coderch and Malavia.

Coderch and Malavia explore different human attitudes to life through their refined sculptural techniques working mainly in bronze and focus on human emotion, figure and posture, beauty and discipline creating a variety of large and small scale sculptures with intricate detail.

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                                                                   When music is synonymous with magic…Malika Favre

During the confinement, a few moments of grace were brought to life by illustrator Malika Favre.

With her minimalist, retro style, Malika Favre is one of the most talked-about French illustrators at the moment.

Her visual creations are even making the rounds of the world thanks to the front pages of the international magazines she regularly produces.

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October moon, Albert Antony Houetuesen,1972

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Vivien on Blue, 2007, by American painter Alex Katz (b. 1927).


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