Bright and Vivid Colors


The use of attention-grabbing or intense color has persisted across time and cultures, despite coming in and out of fashion. Greek and Roman marble sculptures, though often thought of as pristine white, were in fact brightly painted. Throughout the history of Islamic art, intricate, ornamental tilework and mosaics often boasted bright color schemes as well. Bright colors—saturated hues with a high level of lightness—evoke strong associations and meanings throughout the world, denote deities, emotions, or ideas. However, with the rise of Neo-Classicism in the West, which embraced the dictates of purity and “good taste,” bright colors were deemed too garish and fell out of fashion. With the advent of abstraction in the 20th century, however, artists once again widely explored bright colors, oftentimes as a means of expressing psychological experiences. Before the advent of synthetic pigments in the early 18th century, bright colors were difficult and costly to achieve, but since the mass-manufacturing of bold pigments and dyes beginning in the mid-20th century, bright colors are widely available.

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