Color link #1: une petite boutique de pastels parisiens [FT; no paywall, good pics]: The physical properties of pastels, the way in which the powder sits loosely on the surface of the paper, make pastel artworks both luminous and fragile. “The precious powder falls off as easily as scales from a butterfly’s wings,” wrote the French philosopher and critic Denis Diderot in 1765…. As a young artist, he lived in poverty but became obsessed with pastels, beginning with Sennelier sticks then graduating to Rochés. It was like moving, Szafran said, “from a horse and cart to a Ferrari”. “I don’t know what it is about pastels,” continues Isabelle. “I see them as these objects with a kind of soul. Each one is different.” She turns to the drawers next to her. “My cousin Huberte would open the drawers and say, ‘there are people in there.’” Inside the shop, the city sounds faint beyond the archway. The room smells of pastels and the old wood of the furniture. “Prussian Blue smells sweet,” says Isabelle, “some reds too, earth pigments smell musty, other pigments relatively odourless.” Each stick of colour is a little piece of the world ground down and formed into something new: California Poppy, Reddish Grey, Storm Green, Seraphin Blue, Crepuscular Violet, Velvet Black, Galaxy Black, Extra Black.
Color Link #2: How the colours in ancient Pompeian frescoes ‘spoke’ to Mark Rothko [The Art Newspaper]: Mark Rothko visited Pompeii in the 1950s and saw the below frescoes. The red behind the figures evokes Rothko’s own work.
“Rothko encouraged viewers to stand about 18 inches from his paintings surfaces in order to properly experience them…. What becomes evident is not the content of paintings, their narratives or subjects, but their specific presence as objects. It’s a little like standing face to face with another person at close range: after the initial awkwardness has passed, a more acute sense of them as a physical being emerges.”
“Rothko evidently recognised that colour might be able to speak to a spectator directly, in an immediate way, that cuts across levels of expertise, prior knowledge or experience. The fact that he found the same kind of effect in the ancient wall paintings of Pompeii might seem ahistorical—those frescoes aren’t abstract, after all, at least not in a conventional sense—but might also be seen as a profound moment of awareness”