The color red and all its complicated connotations are the subject of a startling group exhibition at the Mnuchin Gallery. The New York gallery is hosting “REDS,” a expose on the color red’s role in art, featuring works by the likes of Josef Albers, Jeff Koons and more. The exhibition will be on view until June 9, 2018.
“Since the cave paintings of Lascaux, the color red has played a starring role in the story of art history. Through the centuries, it has conjured emotions such as love, lust, and rage, and served as a symbol of wealth, war, revolution, and religious sacrifice. Red is one of the most powerful tools in an artist’s color arsenal,” the gallery says. A hue that ensures bold visual impact and guarantees our immediate attention. Mnuchin Gallery’s latest exhibition offers a focused look at artists’ use of red over 60 years — ranging from the postwar period to the present day.
“REDS” includes paintings and sculpture by 25 artists, including Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and Mark Rothko, to name a few. “For thousands of years red has been prized for its striking effect. Historically, its value stemmed from the sheer difficulty of obtaining the color itself, as only a few species of insects and plants produced it,” the gallery adds. “A popular extraction method involved drying the cochineal bug, and since 70,000 insects were required for a single pound of pigment a highly competitive system of piracy developed.”
European countries often obtained this color from the New World and its scarcity made it a luxury reserved for the only the wealthiest. Red remains a color used to demarcate and distinguish objects of note. This exhibition exposes an attempt to trace the myriad of ways in which artists have harnessed the power of red across abstraction and figuration, painting and sculpture. This unique exhibition explores the timeless and universal resonance of colors. Bacon, Bourgeois, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol used the shade to draw human figures or faces that appear against intensely red backdrops. Not only does the color evoke narratives of love, it is also a symbol of violence, and tragedy for the paintings’ subjects. Some artists use this hue to create immersive, meditative experiences for the viewer. In Dan Flavin’s “Untitled (to Sabine and Holger),” 1966- 71, the works bathe in red light and confront him with an immense red void.
The show “comprises twenty-seven masterworks on loan from museums, foundations, and private collections. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue authored by Clayton Press,” says the gallery.