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 …

The Invention of the Light Bulb Did Not Conquer the Night

A Museum Exhibit Explores How Painters Depicted Darkness Even as the World Embraced Artificial Light

For many of us in the modern world, light at the flick of a switch feels so natural that it’s difficult to imagine a time when even the meager flame …

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 …

Cyndi Lauper Is My Mascot

Muralist Judithe Hernández Also Promised a Friend She’d Read an Introduction to Wittgenstein

Muralist Judithe Hernández was a member of the East Los Angeles artist collective Los Four. Her newest public artwork, L.A. Sonata, will be unveiled at the opening of the new …

From Okinawa to Hawaii and Back Again

A Painter Follows the Currents of Her Family History

I am a hapa, yonsei Uchinanchu (a mixed-race, 4th-generation Okinawan-American) who was born in Riverside, California, in 1973 and raised in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. …

A California Painter Laments the Drying Landscape

As the Drought Rages on, an Artist Struggles to Find Inspiration Among Shriveled Poppies and Ankle-Deep Rivers

As an outdoor landscape and seascape painter, I’m used to seeing places change over the years. I painted a stately cottonwood tree on an Owens Valley country lane in the …