2 Audley Square
Mayfair, London W1K
Established in 1994, The Course offers exciting lectures in Art History, Literature and
Music.Hockney “I prefer living in colours”
The very term ‘colour’ is used differently in the C21st. This course traces the fascinating history of pigments: where they came from, how they were created, and how they have changed the course of art history. It’s a story that will take us from a single mine in Afghanistan to the serendipitous discovery of a fraudulent alchemist in Berlin to a contemporary patent for the blackest black imaginable. We’ll consider both the materiality of colours – for instance, the impact of ‘fugitive’ pigments and dyes that disappear in time – and their shifting symbolism in different cultural contexts. Re-discover paintings you thought you knew by seeing them digitally returned to their ‘real’ colours and forge new connections between artists.
“I have finally discovered the true colour of the atmosphere. It’s violet. Fresh air is violet”
So expensive, it was a subject of sumptuary laws and mostly restricted to imperial or royal families, purple has a history that stretches back to Antiquity. Plato mentioned it in his Symposium as the greatest hue of all. The 1890s were called ‘the mauve decade’ when the first synthetic dye was made. But many purples were mixed from reds and blues and, often, faded reds have left only blue paint behind. Discover the true purples in works by Gossaert and Renoir; see how fashion changed forever; and why Monet (and Elizabeth Taylor) fell in love with violet.