Friday, July 29, 2011

When ‘Red’ takes the center stage

My friend Andrew has posted this very interesting photograph in his recent post. Andrew is an avid traveler and photographer who now lives in beautiful Santiago, Chile. This picture I simply loved for its stark, unambiguous compositional quality and it prompted me to write this quick post.

Take a look at the bright cadmium orange cylinder in the boat. There is a vast body of water, hills and several small boats behind it, but the red color grabs all our attention, not leaving any other possibility for visual expectation. Even as the photographer must have looked at it, the bright cylinder must have demanded the center stage.

Red family of color is a big attention grabber. It demands prominence, and artists obey it many times. It is as if the color will create a major ruckus if not pampered so in the composition. The biggest celebration of this demand is in Matisse’s Red Room and Red Studio. Matisse has left no chance for Red to complaint :-)
Here is a small collection of some beautiful paintings of various artists where Red has graced the center stage.  
Click on the Artist's name to learn more about them.

John Sloan (1871–1951) 'Red Kimono on the Roof' 

Raoul Dufy (1877–1953) 'Three Umbrellas'

Gabriele Münter (1877–1962) 'Village street in winter' 

Amrita Shergill (1913–1941) 'The Storyteller' 

Ben Nicholsen (1894-1982 ) 'Still Life' 

Adolph Gottlieb (1903 -1974) 'Brink'
Thanks to Andrew for the nice picture and many such amazingly candid snaps that he has taken on the streets and shared in his blog. :-)    


Anonymous said... have such a gift for writing. I admit I am a little bit envious of your ability. The way you explain the visual is so accessible and seems effortless.
And the art? Very nice selection and the photo was very interesting.

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

Hello Debu. Let me first thank you for featuring this image of mine on your blog. You've right about the red cylinder, in that it did totally grab my attention, too, on first coming across the scene, and it had to be placed centre stage. I wanted at the same time to include something of this bay and to have the mountains as a backdrop. I cropped the bottom of the frame slightly, as I had been forced to include a very small amount of the wharf that ended up adding nothing to the composition. Colours are as much as I remember them, with no attempt made to oversaturate that red.

I've really enjoyed viewing the paintings you've included here, as well as the Wikipedia links.


Onkar Shirgaonkar said...

Its very Interesting...
Nice comparison with Andrew's image & other paintings. yes, really red colour grabs our attention.

Debu Barve said...

Hi Mary,
I'm very much flattered by your kind compliments.I'm glad that you find my writing accessible.:)Thank you.

Debu Barve said...


Thank you very much for your comment and the explanation you have given.It is always interesting to understand the process behind the art.

Debu Barve said...

Dear Onkar,

Thanks for your comment, I'm glad that you liked the post.

V. Deshmukh said...

What a wonderful review. This is most educative. Thank you so much.

Debu Barve said...


Thanks. I'm glad that you find the post useful.:)

Mihir Mone said...

Very simple and classy blog.. Apt collection of paintings.. I loved it...

Debu Barve said...

Mihir, Thanks.:)

notmassproduced said...

interesting have inspired me to use red a bit more

Lynn said...

Another thoughtful and insightful post, Debu, with wonderful images - thank you.

There is a town just south of us - Murnau - where Munter and Kandinsky lived for many years. The house they shared is now a museum which I'm planning to visit in the next couple of weeks and will post about. I think exposure to her art suffered under the shadow of the much more famous Kandinsky. I'm thrilled that you've included one of her images here.

Debu Barve said...

Dear Kate,
Thanks for your remark. Yes I’m also considering exploring some red, a jar of deep cadmium red is staring at me. ;)

Dear Lynn,
Thanks. It is so exciting that you are going to visit the museum! It will be delightful to see your post, looking forward to it.:) I think there is a similar story about Lee Krasner whose work was never discussed as much as Pollock’s. It is sad.

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