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Christina Burton-Fox AIFDfloral artist & instructor

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pantone Color…..secrets of BLACK

Mystery and Authority
Pantone Color: the Secrets of BLACK




It is seen as the absolute contrast or opposite to white, familiar from the yin and yang symbol in Chinese philosophy. In this more positive and spiritual context, black is complementary and interconnected - the perfect duality of light and darkness, male and female."I've been 40 years discovering that the queen of all colors was black". Pierre-August Renoir
Black is the absence of light and is associated with the sky at night, mystery and the unknown. Since the early 20th century, it has come to represent the avant-garde, sophistication and elegance in design. But for centuries before that it was a widespread symbol of humility, soberness and mourning in religion, and of the supernatural and witchcraft in language and culture.
 
From Rags to Riches
In nature, the beginning of night is dark blue, which might explain why the Ancient Greeks used the word kuanos to describe both colors. Roman artisans and medieval Benedictine monks wore black - the former signalling low status, the latter humility. Its status rose with the arrival of high-quality black dyes and it became popular in court dress, initially influenced by the powerful Spanish court.
Black was later widely adopted by religious groups, including the Puritans and the Mennonites; it is still worn by the Amish people in the US. It also developed strong alternative connections in the political sphere - worn during the French Revolution to symbolize egalitarianism, by 19th century anarchists, and by Beatniks, Punks and Goths in the 20th century. The 1980s saw fashionistas wearing the all-black creations of Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garcons) and Yohji Yamamoto.
Avant-Garde Milestones
Black has characterized revolutions in invention, politics and society. Radical poet and painter William Blake foresaw the looming Industrial Revolution when he described "dark, satanic mills", while Charles Dickens used visceral dark imagery to capture the filthy streets and smoky skies of London. Major inventions, including telephones, sewing machines, steamships and railroad locomotives, were painted black to emphasize their functionality. The first mass-produced car, Henry Ford's Model T, was famously any color "so long as it's black".
Arts of Darkness
In eastern art, black was used in calligraphy, developing through China and later in the painstaking pen work of the Middle East. In the west, the artist Rembrandt was an early adopter of a somber black-to-brown palette to tell a complex story in portraits. In the 20th century, Suprematist artist Kazmir Malevich created Black Square to capture revolution; Art Deco carried forward his preference for black - in tandem with shell pink, fawn and opalescent shades - to establish a defined language of modernism that still inspires us today.
New art forms of photography and film showcased black very differently - here was a subtle landscape of texture and grain. While technology soon developed to offer color, the enticing and sophisticated mood captured by the classic film noir movement of the 1940s has never left us. Black can deliver both style and substance - witness the 1960s' movie La Dolce Vita and the first stark paparazzi photographs of the rich and famous.
Quintessence of Elegance
In nature, black has rarity value; for centuries, plant breeders have tried to develop a true black tulip, rose and dahlia - all highly prized. The Icelandic black sandy beaches have an overwhelming beauty and mystique, just like the black panther and the raven.
Above all, the color is associated with sophistication. In 1926, Coco Chanel published a drawing of a simple black gown in Vogue magazine and her name remains synonymous with the little black dress. Yves Saint Laurent called black "the liaison which connects art and fashion" while Gianni Versace described it as "the quintessence of simplicity and elegance". Many fashion brands use it as their trademark color.
Navigating the Future of Black

Black signals change and unpredictability. Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 2007 book The Black Swan - referring to the unexpected events that reshape history - captured the imagination of thinkers everywhere as shorthand for radical events around us. Black remains a stamp of confidence and authority, as seen in the New York Times logo, but in an uncertain world there are many ways to tap into its qualities. After light comes dark, the natural cycle of things to come. Whether it is a radical interior statement or a signal of reliability, black remains a classic. As Coco Chanel put it, "Black has it all".

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