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Pantone -- Pantone is actually a U.S. corporation headquartered in New Jersey. They are best known for PMS, or a Pantone Matching System, which is a proprietary color space used in printing, paint, fabric and plastics. Pantone is all about the use of shading, tone, and timbre of color -- hundreds of versions of each primary color so that the end user can accomplish just what it is they need. However, Pantone is more than just a color database; it is a driver of style and color for numerous industries. For instance, in 2008, Pantone picked #18-3943, or Blue Iris as the color of the year. Almost instantly, designers in furniture, fabric, carpeting, and home decor picked up that this shade of blue and its compatible colors would be "the" color to use (Horyn).
One example of the use of a one-color Pantone job would be the exact look of a certain logo. For example, a client who works in the Ecology industry and offers solutions for businesses to recycle its computer hardware, to "go green" as it were, would not want a bright red, gold, or blue coloration -- those do not speak of anything earth friendly. Instead, they picked a warm, rich green that has the feel of a mossy forest floor, or summer leaves; not too dark, not too neon, Pantone 376 for instance (Pantone Color Table).
Coloration is often different on the computer monitor than it is when printed, based on the quality and resolution of the monitor, so it is important to find the highest quality in color matching through a diagnostics program like the Pantone Matching System (Pantone Color Matching System). While one is able to get the basic hue correct -- the amount of R, G, or B, some of the subtleties of brightness and contrast are often skewed.
This certainly has implications when it comes to the temperature of color. Technically this is the characteristics of visible light that a color absorbs so that it can be seen and emotionally "felt" -- the warmer colors are the oranges and reds; the cooler colors the blues, aquas and light greens. Scientifically high color temperatures are cool (bluish white), lower are warm (yellow and red), and the permutations in between (Color Theory - Color Temperatures; Color Temperature, Daylight, and Light Bulbs).
Color temperature conveys emotion in humans, therefore depending on the job, a client or painter might choose a particular color or color scheme that matched the set of emotions they were trying to convey -- the warmth of something tasty to eat; or the timbre of rich browns and sage green for relaxation; cool blue or green to represent more technical issues; or a variety to represent diversity (Emotional Color Wheel).
"Color Temperature, Daylight, and Light Bulbs." March 2009. Freestylephoto.biz. October 2010
"Color Theory - Color Temperatures." 19 April 2009. Hanprint.com. October 2010
Horyn, C. "Pantone's Color Of the Year." 20 December 2007. The New York Times. October 2010
"Pantone Color Matching System." January 2010. Pantone.com. October 2010
"Pantone Color Table." March 2008. D-Zingsinc. October 2010
Part II -- MOMA -- Through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we are able to view an exhibition electronically produced through the Art Institute of Chicago called Matisse -- Radical Invention 1913-1917.
Level 1 - Historically, this was an important part of world history; Europe was in turmoil, the old regimes were crumbling, thousands were dying in the trenches, revolutionary fervor was hitting Russia and other parts of Europe. The painting under review here was finished in 1917 and is entitled "Bathers by a River." It is cubist in nature, oil on canvas, and was originally inspired by a commission to make panels for a living space. Its dimensions are 8' 7" X 12' 10" and is housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. Besides form and vivid imagery, its importance lies in the way that it caused Matisse to question the relationship of figure sizes to the canvas, something that changed in his works once this painting was complete (Bathers by the River).
Level 2 -- Visually the painting moves the eye through a set of colors, from the earthy browns and leaves of green to the cool blues of sky or sea. Proportionally, each figure is fairly equal, and the use of grey tones for most of the bodies, with rosier pink tones reserved for the bodies of the women portrayed -- breasts, abdomen, and pubic region. As with most cubist paintings, the texture is rather flat and two-dimensional, depth is not a primary issue here. It does seem that compared to some of his earlier works, this piece is more subtle in terms of lighting and color -- particularly if we examine the third figure from the left; in which the background of ivory contrasts with every other color and the shading on the body shows the light as behind her.
Level 3 -- We know Matisse celebrated the female form, and that while he was an intellectual, he believed that the subject matter and colors would dictate more of the design and emotion of the work of art -- in other words, less overthinking and more feeling. This comes across in this painting -- it is not complex, it is not full of action and adventure, but is more quiet and contemplative; warm and inviting; almost as if the artist is taking pleasure from the way in which the bathers are at peace with themselves and the world.
Level 4 - Many cubist paintings do not lend themselves to overt emotionality, however, this piece -- the choice of hue and timbre certainly conveys a message of hope in an era of violence and carnage. It celebrates both nature and the freedom to be unclothed and free from constraint. And, if we look at the location of the nature theme on the left, the woman seems to be getting ready for a plunge into a warm inviting pool; whereas her compatriots are lounging and warming. The use of simple circles and triangles combined with pink tones for the frontal views of the bodies suggests a celebration of sensuality without any overt sexuality. Finally, the eye has three sets of curves emanating in the middle of the painting that move from the resting women on black, through the sand shaped ivory, and into the blue of the sea.
Level 5 -- Matisse was part of a group of French painters known as the Fauves group: Derain, Vlaminck, Dufy, and van Dongen. His cubist style, though, also has much in common with Picasso. The Fauves group had a penchant for color; for instance, painting the grass as always green and the sky as always blue would be too ordinary. For example, a tree might be purple, as in this example, which conveys the cold and iciness of winter while still being truthful to the image. Matisse led this group and encouraged them to use vivid colors -- without a great deal of mixing or blending -- to create the flat shapes so apparent in their works and yet still representational of the object(s) under discussion. It is interesting that the term "Les Fauves" was originally intended as a criticism -- the "wild beasts" who were out of control artistically. These vivid colorations and repetitive brush strokes seemed to be primitive and rough -- unfinished compared to the more sedate and post-romantics of the time (The Fauvism Art Movement: Wild Beasts and Colorful Paintings).
"Bathers by the River." June 2004. All About Matisse. October 2010
"The Fauvism Art Movement: Wild Beasts and Colorful Paintings." 10 April 2007. Emptyeasel.com. October 2010
Part 3 - The Psychology of Color
Level 1 -- Perceptions of color for humans are somewhat subjective; rich burgundy may appear blackish to some, blood red to others. However, psychological research tells us that there are certain colors that have various effects on the brain; the warm colors (red spectrum) evoke warmth, but also anger and hostility; which the colors on the blue side of the spectrum the cool blues, purples and greens can be both calm, sad, or indifferent (Sedaka). One good example of the way color can combine with shape to paint not only a visual, but a psychological picture is that of Elizabeth Murray's Do the Dance,(2005). This is oil on canvas, 9' 5" X 11'3," housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It is a combination of Cubist minimalism and pop surrealism (Elizabeth Murray Exhibitions).
Level 2 -- Do the Dance twists, warps, and knots eslatic shapes, with various color pallets that tend to complement the movement of the work. With the exception of the bright yellow, most of her tones in this piee are muted versions of their pure form; muted blues and purples; muted rather than bright orange, and burnt/orange reds; almost a set of Fall jewel tones. The piece is organized from the square and…[continue]
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