There are many ways to study the color blue in art history – by art type, chronologically, or one continent at a time (etc.).

In an article on Artspace published in September 2013, Alex Greenberger suggests an interesting approach, with five main themes: blue for royalty, blue for heavens, blue for the sky, blue itself and finally blue for sadness (as in having the blues).

Blues and blue in Art History, ArtSpace

The color blue was exceptional before the 18th century and the start of the Denim Age, under the double auspices of the invention of a synthetic form of indigo and the manufacturing revolution. Before, blue was for VIPs only – think royalty and divinities (winged angels, the Virgin Mary, Vishnu). As a tribute to its regal heritage, a shade of blue was called ”royal blue”, a pop hue somewhere between a bright indigo and a light cobalt (with less red inside the blue).

Blue for Out of this World

From Wassily Kandinsky and “The Blue Rider” to Tracy Emin’s neon declarations (see ‘I listen to the Ocean and all I hear is you’, 2011, featured above), including Yves Klein’s IKB, Picasso’s Blue period or Andy Warhol’s blue Marilyns and Jackies, discover the symbolic and practical use of the color blue in art history – and in contemporary art as well – with Artspace.

A word from Artspace:Michael Riedel’s ‘Untitled (color) blue’ dramatically confronts its viewer by announcing blue’s status as a mere color. Riedel’s conceptual work is part of a larger trend within blue art lately: the idea that blue really is just blue, and nothing more.’

Source + read the full story: Why does Art History have the Blues? by Alex Greenberger, 5 September 2013 @Artspace

Blue in Art History, Barnett Newman's Onement VI (1953) - Anything Blue

Blue in Art History, Barnett Newman’s Onement VI (1953) – Artspace – Anything Blue