“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!
installation view at MoMA
Rene Magritte, The tomb of the wrestlers, 1960, oil on canvas
Donald Sultan, Six Red Flowers, 1999, woodcut
Mark Rothko, Mauve and Orange, 1961, oil on canvas
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
Cecily Brown, Pyjama Game, 1998, oil on linen
Jeff Koons,Balloon Dog (red), 1994 – 2000, high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating