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Blue : the history of a color /
Michel Pastoureau.
imprint
Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, c2001.
description
216 p. : ill. (some col.).
ISBN
0691090505 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
uniform title
imprint
Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, c2001.
isbn
0691090505 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4595929
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Michel Pastoureau is a historian and director of studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Michel Pastoureau paints a massive canvas in which the history of one color becomes the history of culture itself. This is a study not of color as mere matter but as idea--presenting thousands of years of thinking in blue."--Michael Camille, author ofThe Medieval Art of Love and Glorious Visions "Michel Pastoureau brilliantly uses the shifting meanings of blue to challenge a whole spectrum of assumptions about color and its symbolic value. . . . Thanks to this study, which is certain to become a classic, blue will never look the same again."--Jori Finkel and Jonathon S. Keats
Flap Copy
"Michel Pastoureau paints a massive canvas in which the history of one color becomes the history of culture itself. This is a study not of color as mere matter but as idea--presenting thousands of years of thinking in blue."--Michael Camille, author of The Medieval Art of Love and Glorious Visions "Michel Pastoureau brilliantly uses the shifting meanings of blue to challenge a whole spectrum of assumptions about color and its symbolic value. . . . Thanks to this study, which is certain to become a classic, blue will never look the same again."--Jori Finkel and Jonathon S. Keats
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-07-01:
This work, by medievalist Pastoureau (Ecole practique des hautes etudes, Paris), is an engaging history of the color blue in Western society, including its symbolic and expressive function in fine art; its social, political, and religious dimensions; and its use in everyday items and clothing. The development of blue pigments and dyes is traced from the early use of sapphire, lapis lazuli, and woad, to indigo and eventually to Prussian blue and the organic compounds of the 19th century. Included is an account of the artists, writers, dyers, weavers, politicians, and industrialists who played a role in this process. Blue was employed relatively rarely in early times, and its status as the color of royalty and the Holy Virgin only emerged in the late Middle Ages. Although its use eventually became quite common, its prestige never waned and by the age of Romanticism it had become emblematic of transcendence and romance. The author documents its continued popularity today through its ubiquitous presence in everything, from blue jeans and police uniforms to singin' the blues. This beautifully illustrated book is well written and informative, and makes an important contribution to the social history of art. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. R. M. Davis Albion College
Reviews
Review Quotes
. . . a delicious mix of erudition and lighthearted fun.
. . . a delicious mix of erudition and lighthearted fun. -- Livres
A generous, gorgeous book full of nearly 100 historical and artistic plates, all illustrating the meaning and role of the color blue in Western history. . . . Pastoureau has created something rare: a coffee table book that is also a good read. And not just a good read, but a compelling read.
A generous, gorgeous book full of nearly 100 historical and artistic plates, all illustrating the meaning and role of the color blue in Western history. . . . Pastoureau has created something rare: a coffee table book that is also a good read. And not just a good read, but a compelling read. -- Brian Bouldrey, Chicago Tribune
A miracle of poetry in the midst of academic rigidity.
A miracle of poetry in the midst of academic rigidity. -- Telerama
. . . a rich volume, intelligently illustrated. . . . With sure-footed scholarship, trenchant opinions, Michel Pastoureau goes beyond a perfunctory visit: he makes us realize the importance of this material and avoids the errors of a number of other historians.
. . . a rich volume, intelligently illustrated. . . . With sure-footed scholarship, trenchant opinions, Michel Pastoureau goes beyond a perfunctory visit: he makes us realize the importance of this material and avoids the errors of a number of other historians. -- Le Monde
Blueis both prettily produced and whimsically enjoyable.
Blue is both prettily produced and whimsically enjoyable. -- Julian Bell, Times Literary Supplement
Blueis both prettily produced and whimsically enjoyable. -- Julian Bell, Times Literary Supplement
Blue. . . is confident, stylish, well-turned out. . . . The book's sapphire glow will grace the most discriminating coffee tables.
Blue . . . is confident, stylish, well-turned out. . . . The book's sapphire glow will grace the most discriminating coffee tables. -- Jane Gardam, Spectator
Blue. . . is confident, stylish, well-turned out. . . . The book's sapphire glow will grace the most discriminating coffee tables. -- Jane Gardam, Spectator
In this beguiling and beautiful mixture of art book and social history, the distinguished French scholar shows how the rarest of all colors became the commonest.
In this beguiling and beautiful mixture of art book and social history, the distinguished French scholar shows how the rarest of all colors became the commonest. -- Emma Hagestadt and Boyd Tonkin, The Independent Magazine
Michel Pastoureau takes us into territory that could be made to feel impossibly dense and absurdly specialized. To his credit, the tour is brisk and challenging.
Michel Pastoureau takes us into territory that could be made to feel impossibly dense and absurdly specialized. To his credit, the tour is brisk and challenging. -- John Loughery, Washington Post Book World
Pastoureau's text moves us through one fascinating area of activity after another. . . . The jacket, cover and end-papers of this luscious book are appropriately blue; its double-columned text breathes easily in the space of its pages; it is so well sewn it opens flat at any place; and fascinating, aptly chosen color plates, not confined to the title color, will please even those eyes denied the good luck of being blue.
Pastoureau's text moves us through one fascinating area of activity after another. . . . The jacket, cover and end-papers of this luscious book are appropriately blue; its double-columned text breathes easily in the space of its pages; it is so well sewn it opens flat at any place; and fascinating, aptly chosen color plates, not confined to the title color, will please even those eyes denied the good luck of being blue. -- William Gass, Los Angeles Times Book Review
The material history of a certain section of the spectrum, from the costly tones of the Virgin's cloak to uniforms, Picasso and jeans. History can make you blind, but some historians can make you see again.
The material history of a certain section of the spectrum, from the costly tones of the Virgin's cloak to uniforms, Picasso and jeans. History can make you blind, but some historians can make you see again. -- James Davidson, Daily Telegraph
This beautifully illustrated book is well written and informative, and makes an important contribution to the social history of art.
This beautifully illustrated book is well written and informative, and makes an important contribution to the social history of art. -- Choice
Michel Pastoureau brilliantly uses the shifting meanings of blue to challenge a whole spectrum of assumptions about color and its symbolic value. . . . Thanks to this study, which is certain to become a classic, blue will never look the same again.
Michel Pastoureau paints a massive canvas in which the history of one color becomes the history of culture itself. This is a study not of color as mere matter but as idea--presenting thousands of years of thinking in blue.
This item was reviewed in:
Los Angeles Times, November 2001
Washington Post, February 2002
Choice, July 2002
New York Times Book Review, November 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This text tells the fascinating history of our favourite colour, blue, and the cultures that have hated it, loved it, and created great art with it.
Main Description
Bluehas a long and topsy-turvy history in the Western world. Once considered a hot color, it is now icy cool. The ancient Greeks scorned it as ugly and barbaric, but most Americans and Europeans now pick it as their favorite color. In this entertaining history, the renowned medievalist Michel Pastoureau traces the changing meanings of blue from its rare appearances in prehistoric art to its international ubiquity today in blue jeans and Gauloises cigarette packs. Any history of color is, above all, a social history. Pastoureau investigates how the ever-changing role of blue in society has been reflected in manuscripts, stained glass, heraldry, clothing, paintings, and popular culture. Beginning with the almost total absence of blue from ancient Western art and language, the story moves to medieval Europe. As people began to associate blue with the Virgin Mary, the color entered the Church despite the efforts of chromophobic prelates.Bluewas reborn as a royal color in the twelfth century and functioned as a formidable political and military force through the French Revolution. As blue triumphed in the modern era, new shades were created, and blue became the color of romance. Finally, Pastoureau follows blue into contemporary times, when military clothing gave way to the everyday uniform of blue jeans, and blue became the universal and unifying color of the Earth as seen from space. With an exceptionally elegant design and strikingly illustrated with one hundred color plates,Bluetells the fascinating history of our favorite color and the cultures that have hated it, loved it, and created great art with it.
Main Description
Blue has a long and topsy-turvy history in the Western world. Once considered a hot color, it is now icy cool. The ancient Greeks scorned it as ugly and barbaric, but most Americans and Europeans now pick it as their favorite color. In this entertaining history, the renowned medievalist Michel Pastoureau traces the changing meanings of blue from its rare appearances in prehistoric art to its international ubiquity today in blue jeans and Gauloises cigarette packs. Any history of color is, above all, a social history. Pastoureau investigates how the ever-changing role of blue in society has been reflected in manuscripts, stained glass, heraldry, clothing, paintings, and popular culture. Beginning with the almost total absence of blue from ancient Western art and language, the story moves to medieval Europe. As people began to associate blue with the Virgin Mary, the color entered the Church despite the efforts of chromophobic prelates. Blue was reborn as a royal color in the twelfth century and functioned as a formidable political and military force through the French Revolution. As blue triumphed in the modern era, new shades were created, and blue became the color of romance. Finally, Pastoureau follows blue into contemporary times, when military clothing gave way to the everyday uniform of blue jeans, and blue became the universal and unifying color of the Earth as seen from space. With an exceptionally elegant design and strikingly illustrated with one hundred color plates, Blue tells the fascinating history of our favorite color and the cultures that have hated it, loved it, and created great art with it.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Color Is Not Black and Whitep. 7
An Uncommon Color: Prehistory to the Twelfth Centuryp. 13
A New Color: The Eleventh to the Fourteenth Centuryp. 49
A Moral Color: The Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Centuryp. 85
The Favorite Color: The Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuryp. 123
Blue Todayp. 179
Notesp. 182
Bibliographyp. 206
Indexp. 213
Photography Creditsp. 216
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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