Spotlight: Why Do Artists Love Blue? A New Show in Hannover Explores the Color’s Many Meanings, From Sorrow to the Sea

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What You Need to Know: Opening this week, Galerie Koch in Hannover, Germany, presents the exhibition “Blau: Von farblichen Akzenten bis zur Monochromie V,” or “Blue: From Color Accents to Monochrome V.” Running from March 9 through April 6, 2023, the show is comprised of over 40 works by 26 international artists, dating from both the 20th and 21st centuries. Every work in the exhibition features the color blue—from full monochrome use to accents that are central to the composition. With works by modern masters like Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig to founders of the Zero artist group Heinz Mack and Günther Uecker, as well as contemporary practitioners, the breadth and scope of the hue’s influence and its use in art is traced through more than a century of art history in the show. “Blue” is also accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue, with text by Dr. Anette Brunner.

Why We Like It: The color blue—in all its shades, tones, and tints—has been a source of inspiration for artists for centuries. Whether used as a symbolic reference or to reflect elements in nature, blue can be endlessly adapted to and adopted for artists’ creative needs. The use of blue within realism and abstraction is one of the more intriguing focuses of the exhibition. In works such as Rainer Gross’s (2021), blue appears as part of a pigment excavation, representing only itself. Juxtaposed with Heinz Mack’s (2018), blue becomes a formalized element within a geometric abstraction, drawing attention not only to the color of the painting but the specific effects of shape and line. Contrasted with these abstractions are works like Klaus Fußmann’s (2020), wherein through impressionistic methods blue becomes representative of natural elements like sea, sky, and horizon. In Renata Tumarova’s figurative (2022), however, blue is used to convey the natural lighting while embedding the composition with emotional nuance, evoking ideas of memory, and even nostalgia. Together, the works of the exhibition offer viewers a comprehensive exploration of the artistic inspiration of the color blue.

According to the Gallery: “Blue, as the color of the sky, water, and distance, is considered the color of vastness, longing, and internalization. Its effect is described as cold, calm, melancholic, and deep. In the Romantic period, the color blue then became a symbol of ideal, spiritual ideas, in the art of the 20th and 21st centuries it finally became the expression of a metaphysical striving in art, as a metaphor for the spiritual. But it also serves as a means of expressive expression and thus as a carrier of meaning; it is questioned in terms of its light value, as a color material and in its relationship to other colors.”

See featured works from the exhibition below.

Klaus Fußmann, Ostee, vier Segler (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Klaus Fußmann,  (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Heinz Mack, Untitled (Chromatic Constellation) (2018). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Heinz Mack, (2018). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Renata Tumarova, Field of Joy 04 (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Renata Tumarova, (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Andrea Neuman, Grand Dissolution 02 (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Andrea Neuman, (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Rainer Gross, Ware Twins (2021). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

Rainer Gross, (2021). Courtesy of Galerie Koch, Hannover.

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