“If you can’t make it good…make it big and RED.”

“If you cant make it good, make it big and red,” an insidious quote describing what indeed makes “good” art…well whether it is correct or not, rouge tinted art is extremely prevalent and the artists who use this rosy shade are famous as ever.

Red,  a color associated with the most extreme of human emotions: love, passion, lust and diversely anger, wrath, and violence. Its ability to affect us physically, emotionally, and optically  is rather amazing. With Valentine’s day tomorrow, it is no coincidence I have decided to explore this vibrant hue and its use in art.



For quite some time artists have recognized the power of red and many heavy hitters of the art world have at one point during their career created a very red work of art. From Barnett Newman’s infamous Vir Heroicus Sublimis, meaning “man, heroic, and sublime,” which exemplifies the sublimity of red in an enormous color field painting, to the deeply personal performance pieces entitled Body Tracks by Ana Mendieta in which she used a mixture of blood and red paint to create these extremely emotional works. From the purely aesthetic to the deeply conceptual red has been used by artists for many reasons, below is a compilation of a few, of the many, well known “red” works of art. The drama, power, and allure of red is undeniable; one could argue that the greatness of the following artworks is in fact because they are red…from sports cars to stilettos everything is indeed better in RED!



Barnett Newman, Vir Heroicus Sublimis,  1950 -51, oil on canvasImage

installation view at MoMA


Rene Magritte, The tomb of the wrestlers, 1960, oil on canvas


Henri Matisse, L’Atelier Rouge (The Red Studio), 1911, oil on canvasImage

James Rosenquist, Time Points, 1991, oil and acrylic on canvas with clock mechanism and hands

Donald Sultan, Six Red Flowers, 1999, woodcut


Mark Rothko, Mauve and Orange, 1961, oil on canvas


Dan Flavin, Four Red Horizontals, 1963, red fluorescent lightImage

Marlene Dumas, Jule-die Vrou, 1985


Ana Mendieta Untitled (Body Tracks), 1974, Lifetime color photograph


Donald Judd, Untitled, 1963


Andy Warhol, Flowers (Red), 1964


Ellsworth Kelly, Broadway, 1958, oil on canvas


Alexander Calder, Big Red, 1959. Sheet metal and steel wireImage

Cecily Brown, Pyjama Game, 1998, oil on linen


Jeff Koons,Balloon Dog (red), 1994 – 2000, high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating


7 comments on ““If you can’t make it good…make it big and RED.”

  1. Beautiful post! Would you mind if I reblogged this on synkroniciti.com? We are doing a red theme for the entire week and it would be fantastic to feature your post.


  2. Love red! Alizarin crimson and Vermillion are two of my favourite colours of all time. Red and Rothko are a great combination too 🙂
    That said, some studies have show that people are attracted to blue above any other colour.

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