What Giacometti’s Obsession With the Color Gray Really Meant

When the Sculptor Turned to Painting, His Palette Expressed His Existential Yearnings

The Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) is best-known for his lean, elongated sculptures that grew progressively taller and thinner over the course of his oeuvre. His lesser-known painted portraits, like the sculpted figures, reflect his fascination with the relationship between the human body and space. And, interestingly, that space is typically painted gray. The gray worlds of the portraits are as important as the faces and bodies of Annette, Caroline, Diego, and all of the other relatives, friends, lovers, and acquaintances who appear in Giacometti’s paintings. If we give Giacometti’s …

This Color Can Be Dirty, Deceptive—and Divine

Cloth to Computers, Blue's Rich History Keeps Multiplying Its Meanings

The meaning of blue lies in its contradictions.

The color is associated with introversion and introspection, but it’s also associated with the expansiveness and openness of oceans and skies. It’s …

Are Replicas Changing the Way We Experience Art?

Precise Digital Reproductions Allow More People to Own and View Masterpieces, Minus the Work’s Soul

You are in the Chauvet cave, 35,000 years old. As you enter, the walkway you traverse winds around spot-lit, saber-toothed stalactites and stalagmites. The rough-skin texture of the stone walls …

Why Aren’t People Eating in Medieval Depictions of Feasts?

It's an Expression of the Era’s Ambivalence Towards Food

When most people think of a medieval feast, they envision a room filled with boisterous guests and the lusty consumption of hunks of meat and goblets filled with wine. Feasts …

The Accidental Color That Redirected Human Expression

Discovered by a Chemist, Prussian Blue Gave Painters the Spontaneity They Were Missing

True blue, royal blue, ultramarine: During the Renaissance, these were all names for the most prized of all pigments, lazurite, derived from the semiprecious mineral lapis lazuli. Mined and processed …