Friday, September 30, 2016

The Story of Monochrome

Monochromes: From Malevich to the Present, by Barbara Rose is a reflection on the history of single-color works of art through essays by the author and three additional contributors, Gladys Fabre, Christopher Ho and Vincenzo Trione. More than one hundred and sixty photographs of artists' works illustrate the paperback, arranged by colors starting with black followed by red, blue, gold, silver, ending with white.
A short introduction goes back to the birth of monochromes, centuries ago in the Far East and includes a chronology of significant events, publications or works related to the subject, from 1810 to 2004. Rose's essay organized in nine short chapters is enlightening due to her wide knowledge. Following the four essays, selected writings from twenty six artists are  organized under six themes and feature texts from Kazimir Malevich to Carl AndreLucio FontanaArmanYves Klein,
Ad Reinhardt, Donald Judd, Anish Kapoor among others. Furthermore, its stylish blue cover inscribed with gold letters and its lavish illustrations make Monochromes a great book from content to design.
Note for the New Orleanian art lovers: a painting belonging to the New Orleans Museum of Art's permanent collection, Effect of Snow at Giverny, 1893, from Claude Monet is part of the discussion, as a landmark in the history of monochrome. Chakaia Booker ( also found in the New Orleans Museum of Art's permanent collection) is represented by one of her sculptures.
Challenging at times, the reading of the book provides a review of the full scope of the monochrome, highlighting its timelessness and universality.

photographs by the author:

John Isiah Walton "Almost Clean", 2016

Julio LeParc "Movil Bleu", 1967

Lucio Fontana "Neon Structure", 1951, for the IX Triennial in Milan

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