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 exposé "bleu"

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thestral.

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Date d'inscription : 12/02/2015

MessageSujet: exposé "bleu"   Sam 13 Oct - 1:01

Exposé Bleu : histoire d'une couleur, Michel Pastoureau.
INTRO.
- my presentation is gonna be on the evolution of the perception and use of the color blue from its origins in the antiquity to the 14h century, an historical study provided from the book Bleu : l’histoire d’une couleur written by Michel Pastoureau, published in 2000. most of the things i’m gonna say are basically his studies, but i’m just gonna try to make them less dense and give them to you in a simpler way to get.
- people tend to think that color is art, science or pictography-related, but the fact is that it is deeper than that : color is a society fact.
- no transcultural truth about colors (=can change from a culture to another bc one perception of color isn’t always the same from one culture to another). And also, people tend to think that color can only be studied from an artistic point of view – michel pastoureau wants to show that this is not true and that there’s more to it – and that history of paintings does not always mean the study of colors.
- “every color’s history can only be a social story” because, in fact, color is defined as a society fact : society makes the color, gives it a meaning, builds its codes, organize its uses. Its not the people that does it : but society.  Colors issues are deeply linked to social issues.
- to understand the use of a color you must get into the historical context because there are a lot of factors (such as the Church’s rules and speculations, pigmentations chemistry, material culture, dress code, etc.)
- many difficulties to treat the subject bc :
+documentaries : we see colors as they appear to us, so they are not the same as how they were at the time they were created. On the tapestries for example, they are mostly used by time. We also don't see them on the same light, etc. and also, for decades, we have been studying these colors on a black and white view : so much that our view seems to remain on the same filter of color.
+methodologicals : many questions appear to the historian at the same time (physical, chemical, material,  technical, but also iconographical, ideological, emblematical, symbolical). In which order should the historian treat those questions ? No answer yet so people tend to study these questions in their own way, most of the time they skew the studies because they select what is the most useful for them and set aside what isn't. // ppl who studied about color used to only refer to the written texts of the eras instead of working like an historian and analyzing the paintings, finding from those images their own meaning : interpreting what they saw instead of relying on written texts that would give them manufactured answers instead of actually working on what was in front of them. Structural analysis was leftover for these written traces from the old eras.
+epistemological(epistemology= critical study of science, theory of knowledge): we can’t put our current view of colors on the old objects, monuments and clothes, since our perception of colors evolved and is still evolving. For example, green surely won’t have the same meaning now than in a century – anachronism must be avoided at all cost by the historian, this is why he has to get rid off our actual conception of color a or b. pastoureau used the example of the colors black and white : he said that, for centuries, they were considered as full part colors, that the color spectrum hadn’t been discovered before the 17th century, or even the fact that the concept of “warm” and “cold” colors is purely conventional and doesn’t work the same way since blue was considered a “warm” color back at the middle age. There wasn’t a scientific knowledge of color back then (such as primary colors concepts, distinction of rods and cones….) so, while studying the history of colors, we must step aside from our modern knowledge.
+ PLAN: chronological view over the evolution of blue, while also comparing it to some other colors. Antiquity > Middle Age > Renaissance.
DVLPMT.
- blue’s quiet place in society and the fact that in many languages, naming it was difficult led historians to wonder if men and women of the antiquity were able to perceive it. This theory has been left behind but the absence of blue for many millenniums is an historical fact that must be studied.
I) Antiquity (4th millennium before Christ – 5th century)
-blue came later that other colors : missing from first paintings of the men when they were still nomads, but there are other colors like black, red, ocres of all shades. But no blue, nor white or green. Then, when the man started to dye his clothes, he began with red and yellow way before using blue. This color always came late despite the fact that it was present a lot in nature – the men learnt lately how to reproduce, make and master it.
> might be why blue stayed a second class color and was lacking a role in social life, religious practices and so on and so forth. In opposition to red white and black the “basics” of all society, blue’s symbolic was too weak (it didn’t transmit any emotion or idea, didn’t help to rank or prioritize – which is the main purpose of a color).
-the textile always had a deep bond with color since it permits to ask almost every questions, because it’s a diversified documentary field. It mixes material, technical, economical, social, ideological, esthetical and symbolical issues. Every questions about color can come from textile material (dye chemistry, commercial issues, financial constraint, ideological representations …). right now, we situate between the sixth and the fourth millennium before our era the first uses of dye towards textile. Corporal paintings and certain natural “dye” (coming from wood) are older.
- The first dyed tissues that we found were not european but mostly african and asian. In europe we have to wait the end of the fourth millennium before our era – and they all were in red tones. Can be explained bc until the beginning of Roman era, in occident, dying textile consisted mostly of changing the color by something in the red tones, from ocres and the paler pinks up to cardinal red.
> to dye in red they used madder (garance in french) and other plants, the kermes which is a cochineal, some molluscs – and these “tools” penetrated deeply into the textile fibres and were more resistants which explains the fact that red was used a lot as a color for dyes. They were really resistant to sun, water, and permitted a play with shades and tints in addition to richer lights. Red was used so much that in latin, the word “coloratus” (colored) and “ruber” (red) were synonyms – means that red was so much present that it kinda became the main color.
- back at the roman era, there was a three-system color : red was for dyed clothes, white for a non-dyed one but clean or pure and black a non-dyed a dirty and soiled clothe. This three-color system didn’t leave any room for the use of blue (nor yellow, or green) – but they were present in the everyday life, it’s just that they didn’t have a “real” meaning.
- unlike Greeks and Romans, Celts and Germanics actually use the color blue as a dye : they create it from the dyer’s woad, a plant that grows on the humid or clayey soils. The color blue is contained in its leaves, but its long and hard to get it.
- true indigo also used since the neolithic in the regions where it grew. Later used by the Bible’s people way before Christ’s birth after its exportation (true indigo from india especially) : but expensive so only used for quality fabric. Not used a lot by Romans bc : expensive + they don’t like the color.
- lapis lazuli and azurite pigments were also used to make blue. To use the lapis you had to crush it and get rid off all the impurities in it (which were more numerous than the actual blue pigments) : Greeks and Romans used the lapis in the wrong way, since it was too long to do they just used to crush the lapis and use it like that. This is the reason why Greeks and Romans’s blue was less pure and bright than the one we can find in Asia, or later in the Muslim world and Christian Occident. (medieval artists will find a wax and lye mixture composure to get rid off those impurities quicker). Azurite was cheaper so more used (and on bigger surfaces) – and it had to be crushed just like the lapis.
- Greeks and Romans saw blue as a “barbaric” color which made them use it very carefully. The Celts and Germanics were, according to Caesar’s saying, color their body in blue to scare their enemies. Ovid said that Germanics also dyied their white hair in blue with woad to make them darker. Pline even affirmated that the Breton’s women painted their bodies in blue before getting into some orgiastic rituals – stating that blue must be avoided. These led Romans and Greeks to be suspicious about blue – having blue eyes was a total disgrace and for a man it was a physical attribute that made him less “manly”, for women it translated a lick of virtue.
- historians wondered if Greeks and Romans were able to see the color blue because :
> there were not actual words to name blue just like there were for white, red, black. The 2 most used words to describe blue in greek were : “Glaukos” and “Kyaenos”. “Glaukos”, used a lot by Homere in the Illiad and the Odyssey, can express sometimes green, grey, blue or even yellow or dark brown. It translates more the idea of something pale or weak rather than a precise colouration. “Kyanos” designates dark blue, also purple, black, dark brown – it translates more the “feeling” rather than the colouration.
II) Middle Age (476 : fall of the Roman empire - 15th century)
- in the bible : color terms are various from one language to another and get more and more precise as they are translated. Ex : medieval Latin uses a high quantity of color terms were Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic used only terms that refereed to material. (ex given by Pastoureau : “brillant” in Hebrew > “candidus” (white) in Latin or “ruber” (red). Where hebrew says “dirty” or “dark”, Latin says “niger” or “viridis” (green).)
> this can explain why it’s difficult to like blue’s place in the Bible and its people.
- in the middle age, blue is still seen as not rewarding, and is even counting less than green. For some artists, blue isn’t even related to the color of sky which is more often represented as white, red or golden. But it doesn’t stop blue from being present on the everyday life such as the Merovingian clothes. It is later erased again at the Carolingian era, where it’s a return to the Roman colors (red, blanc, cardinal red).
> blue is then abandoned by the higher classes and will be mostly used by peasants and lower-classes people (and it will stay like that until the 12th century).
- this shows that blue was a discrete color but not totally absent from society – but on many other subject, it lacked it such as : anthroponymy (which is related to the name of people), toponymy (name of the places, regions), liturgy (cult), the world of symbols and emblems. On a symbolical matter, blue is too weak and quiet. Even if Christianity which vows a cult to the sky and divine light, gives the code to society, don’t succeed in changing that since blue was missing in cults and church until the first half of the 12th century, with the birth of blue-skyed stained glasses.
- after the year 1000, many texts on the religious symbolic of color : but, again, no mention of the color blue, as if it didn’t exist. After the 12th century, many liturgists continue to write about the colors – but once again, blue is left out.
- blue isn’t always present in the middle age’s images and art works, but sometimes it has an important role in them. Many periods should be discerned : at the early christian era, blue is mostly used alongside green, yellow and white where its steps out from black (but it’s not the case on murals nor, later, in illuminations (enluminures). In written books, blue has been rare and dark for a long time since it didn’t have a precise meaning. But at the Carolingian Empire era, blue began to be less discrete : became at the same time a background color, one of the colors of the sky which incarnated the divine intervetion and, sometimes, the color of somebody’s clothe
ex : the Virgin will start to wear blue around the 12th century on her coat (most frequent), her dress or, on some cases, her whole attire. At first she was wearing darker colors to symbolize the mourn of her son – but blue  then started to take this role.
- Around the year 1000, most blues used for illuminations brighten and got less saturated, thus making them play the role of a “light” which “illuminated” the closets grounds on an art work.
- for science men, color = light. But for theologians, contrary : color is vile, useless and despicable. They thought it until the 12th century to the point that they create a conflict between Cluny’s monks and those of Cîteaux, since they were separated by their opinions about colors. Cluny’s monks were in favor of them (ex: Suger, around 1130’/1140’s gave a huge place to color while a rebuilt his church because “nothing’s too beautiful for God’s place”.) But the Cîteaux’s monks didn’t like colors (ex: abbe Clairveaux thought that colors were “vanitas” (latin) = vanities from which we must free ourselves).
- The heraldry (knowledge of crests = armoirie in friench) is also a subject on which we can study the evolution of blue’s place. Historians noted that, on the crests, azure (a blue-sky color) was more and more present starting from 1200, where it was at 5% - the king of France wore it. In 1250 it was at 15% - many families start to use blue to on their crests bc it’s assimilated to the prestige of the king of France, 25% in 1300 and 30% in 1400 – which is a high number compared to the 5% of the beginning.
> the growth of the use of blue split the dyer’s job in two : those who dyed in red (included shades of yellow) and those who dyed in blue (including black and shades of green).
III) Renaissance (15th century : fall of Constantinople - 17th century)
- the “laws’ and “rules” related to colors should also be taken in consideration. For example, back at the 15th century, the word “scarlet” in vernaculars languages (french, german, dutch) is related to everything attached to wealth. That meant that people who were supposed to be “humble” had to avoid scarlet (such as the Church men). On a larger scale, every color that was too “showy” was prohibited because it was unworthy for a good Christian to wear them.
> color became more important since it was a crucial element of society to distinguish people’s role, social class, etc.
> it could be noted that, while white, black, red, green and yellow where used on a discriminatory matter (ex: for prostitutes, Jews, lepers/lépreux) , blue remained neutral as it was still too weak to have a real signification. Its use was neither prohibited nor prescribed.
On a religious view :
> at the 15th century, several movements are gonna rebel against the use of gold, colors into the Church which will result in the disappearance of them from the cult. The meaning of colors changed (ex: red was no longer for the Christ’s blood but represented humans’ madness) – but this Reform was still benevolent towards blue since it was always absent from liturgy, which meant that people could still use it since it was neutral thus had no bad or good meaning.
> this reform also applied to clothes. All colors that were too shiny, bright or saturated were banished. In fact, the concept of clothes was the incarnation of shame for human since it was directly caused by the Fall, when humans were banished from Heaven thus condemned to cover their body out of modesty and decency. Blue was allowed to be used for clothes as long as it stayed in the shades of grey, and not too bright or lightened.
CONCLUSION
- michel pastoureau gave a chronological view over the evolution of color, and gave us more points of view than only an artistic one. Indeed, instead of just focusing on the use of the color blue on paintings, he gave us other sources such as the liturgical meaning and evolution of blue, its use in clothes, how it was perceived at different eras (the Romans in the Antiquity, for example), and so on and so forth.


Dernière édition par thestral. le Lun 15 Oct - 19:51, édité 1 fois
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Date d'inscription : 12/02/2015

MessageSujet: Re: exposé "bleu"   Lun 15 Oct - 19:50

15 minutes, version raccourcie.
INTRO.
- my presentation is gonna be on the book Bleu : l’histoire d’une couleur, Michel Pastoureau, 2000.
- treats the evolution of the perception and use of the color blue from its origins in the antiquity to our era, but i’m gonna stop at the 15th century, in the Renaissance.
- most of the things i’m gonna say are basically his studies, but i’m just gonna try to make them less dense and give them to you in a simpler way to get.
- people tend to think that color is art, science or pictography-related, but the fact is that it is deeper than that.
- no transcultural truth about colors (=its perception can change from a culture to another).
- people also tend to think that color can only be studied from an artistic point of view – Michel Pastoureau wants to show that this is not true and that there’s more to it, that history of paintings does not always equal the study of colors.

- Michel Pastoureau found 3 issues that makes hard to study the subject of color :

+documentaries : we see colors as they appear to us BUT they are not the same as how they were at the time they were created. On the tapestries for example, they are mostly used by time + faded away. We also don't see them on the same light, etc. and also, for decades, we have been studying these colors on a black and white view : so much that our view seems to remain on the same filter of color.
+methodologicals : many questions appear to the historian at the same time (physical, chemical, material,  technical, but also iconographical, ideological, emblematical, symbolical). In which order should the historian treat those questions ? No answer yet so people tend to study these questions in their own way, most of the time they skew the studies because they select what is the most useful for them and set aside what isn't.
+epistemological(epistemology= critical study of science, theory of knowledge): we can’t rely on our current view of colors since our perception of them evolved and is still evolving. Pastoureau used the example of the colors black and white : he said that, for centuries, they were considered as full part colors, that the color spectrum hadn’t been discovered before the 17th century, or the fact that the warm/cold color concept is purely conventional (back at the Middle Age, blue was considered as a warm color). There wasn’t a scientific knowledge of color back then (such as primary colors concepts, distinction of rods and cones….) so we must step aside from our modern knowledge.

+ PLAN: chronological view over the evolution of blue, while also comparing it to some other colors. Antiquity > Middle Age > Renaissance.


I) Antiquity (4th millennium before Christ – 5th century)
-blue came later that other colors : missing from first paintings of the men when they were still nomads, but there are other colors like black, red, ocres of all shades. But no blue, nor white or green. Then, when the man started to dye his clothes, he began with red and yellow way before using blue. This color always came late despite the fact that it was present a lot in nature – the men learnt lately how to reproduce, make and master it.
> might be why blue stayed a second class color and was lacking a role in social life, religious practices and so on and so forth. In opposition to red white and black the “basics” of all society, blue’s symbolic was too weak (it didn’t transmit any emotion or idea, didn’t help to rank or prioritize – which is the main purpose of a color).
-the textile always had a deep bond with color since it permits to ask almost every questions, because it’s a diversified documentary field. The first dyed tissues that we found were not European but mostly Africans and Asians. In Europe we have to wait the end of the fourth millennium before our era – and they all were in red tones. Can be explained bc until the beginning of Roman era, in Occident, dying textile consisted mostly of changing the color by something in the red tones, from ochres and the paler pinks up to cardinal red.
> to dye in red they used madder (garance in french) and other plants, the kermes which is a cochineal, some molluscs – and these “tools” penetrated deeply into the textile fibres and were more resistant which explains the fact that red was used a lot as a color for dyes. They were really resistant to sun, water, and permitted a play with shades and tints in addition to richer lights.
- unlike the Greeks and Romans, Celts and Germanics actually used the color blue as a dye : they created it from the dyer’s woad, a plant that grows on the humid or clayey soils. The color blue is contained in its leaves, but its long and hard to get it.
- ways to create blue :
true indigo (used since the neolithic, mostly imported from India, later used by the Bible’s people, but was expensive so only used for quality fabric. Roman didn’t use it bc of the price + didn’t like the color). lapis lazuli and azurite pigments (lapis : crush it and get rid off impurities in it but Greeks and Romans didn’t do it bc took too much time so just crushed it and used it like that). (azurite : cheaper, more used than lapis : also had to be crushed).
- The Greeks and Romans saw blue as a “barbaric” color which made them use it very carefully. Ex : according to sayings, Celts and Germanics painted their body in bleu to scare enemies, or Breton's women painted their body in blue before getting into some orgastic ritual. These sayings led Greek and Roman people to be suspicious about blue.
- historians wondered if Greeks and Romans were able to see the color blue because :
> there were not actual word to name blue just like there were for white, red, black. The closest were “Glaukos” & “Kyaenos” bc they were the ones that referred the most to blue.


II) Middle Age (476 : fall of the Roman empire - 15th century)
- in the middle age, blue is still seen as not rewarding, and is even counting less than green. For some artists, blue isn’t even related to the color of sky which is more often represented as white, red or golden. But it doesn’t stop blue from being present on the everyday life such as the Merovingian clothes. It is later erased again at the Carolingian era, where it’s a return to the Roman colors (red, white, cardinal red).
> blue is then abandoned by the higher classes and will be mostly used by peasants and lower-classes people (and it will stay like that until the 12th century).
- this shows that blue was a discrete color but not totally absent from society – but on many other subject, it lacked it such as : anthroponymy (which is related to the name of people), toponymy (name of the places, regions), liturgy (cult), the world of symbols and emblems. Ex : Blue was missing in cults and church until the first half of the 12th century, with the birth of blue-skyed stained glasses.
- blue isn’t always present in the middle age’s images and art works, but sometimes it has an important role in them. Many periods should be discerned : at the early christian era, blue is mostly used alongside green, yellow and white where its steps out from black (but it’s not the case on murals nor, later, in illuminations (enluminures). In written books, blue has been rare and dark for a long time since it didn’t have a precise meaning. But at the Carolingian Empire era, blue began to be less discrete : became at the same time a background color, one of the colors of the sky which incarnated the divine intervention and, sometimes, the color of somebody’s clothe.
ex : the Virgin will start to wear blue around the 12th century on her coat (most frequent), her dress or, on some cases, her whole attire. At first she was wearing darker colors to symbolize the mourn of her son – but blue then started to take this role.
- for science men, color = light. But for theologians, contrary : color is vile, useless and despicable. They thought it until the 12th century to the point that they created a conflict between Cluny’s monks and those of Cîteaux, since they were separated by their opinions about colors. Cluny’s monks were in favor of them (ex: Suger, around 1130’/1140’s gave a huge place to color while he rebuilt his church because “nothing’s too beautiful for God’s place”.) But the Cîteaux’s monks didn’t like colors (ex: abbe Clairveaux thought that colors were “vanitas” (latin) = vanities from which we must free ourselves).
- The heraldry (knowledge of crests = armoirie in friench) is also a subject on which we can study the evolution of blue’s place. Historians noted that, on the crests, azure (a blue-sky color) was more and more present starting from 1200, where it was at 5% - the king of France wore it. In 1250 it was at 15% - many families start to use blue to on their crests bc it’s assimilated to the prestige of the king of France, 25% in 1300 and 30% in 1400 – which is a high number compared to the 5% of the beginning.



III) Renaissance (15th century : fall of Constantinople - 17th century)
- the “laws’ and “rules” related to colors should also be taken in consideration. For example, back at the 15th century, the word “scarlet” in vernaculars languages (french, german, dutch) is related to everything attached to wealth. That meant that people who were supposed to be “humble” had to avoid scarlet (such as the Church men). On a larger scale, every color that was too “showy” was prohibited because it was unworthy for a good Christian to wear them.
> color became more important since it was a crucial element of society to distinguish people’s role, social class, etc.
> it could be noted that, while white, black, red, green and yellow where used on a discriminatory matter (ex: for prostitutes, Jews, lepers/lépreux) , blue remained neutral as it was still too weak to have a real signification. Its use was neither prohibited nor prescribed.
On a religious view :
> at the 15th century, several movements are gonna rebel against the use of gold, colors into the Church which will result in the disappearance of them from the cult. The meaning of colors changed (ex: red was no longer for the Christ’s blood but represented humans’ madness) – but this Reform was still benevolent towards blue since it was always absent from liturgy, which meant that people could still use it since it was neutral thus had no bad or good meaning.
> this reform also applied to clothes. All colors that were too shiny, bright or saturated were banished. In fact, the concept of clothes was the incarnation of shame for human since it was directly caused by the Fall, when humans were banished from Heaven thus condemned to cover their body out of modesty and decency. Blue was allowed to be used for clothes as long as it stayed in the shades of grey, and not too bright or lightened.


CONCLUSION
- michel pastoureau gave a chronological view over the evolution of color, and gave us more points of view than only an artistic one. Indeed, instead of just focusing on the use of the color blue on paintings, he gave us other sources such as the liturgical meaning and evolution of blue, its use in clothes, how it was perceived at different eras (the Romans in the Antiquity, for example), and so on and so forth.
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