Red: Day 33

The next color in the series is Red. A strong, traditional color that has been available for fashion for millennia, it is easily obtained as pigments and natural dyes and has not been radically improved by the chemical age. The color of caution, risk and passion, red is a popular accent color.

I have been enjoying the Google Arts and Culture App on my tablet (available as a website as well). One of the tools in this program is a color analyzer that lets you look at paintings in a museum collection grouped by major color theme.

I am joining my family on a trip to Norway in May and wanted to get a feel for the ONE painting I would love in Oslo. Let me explain the ONE painting idea. Art museums are built over centuries by many collectors and curators. When I was younger, I noticed that something terrible happens the moment I enter an Art museum. It doesn’t matter how early, how close to my hotel, the moment I enter the museum I feel exhausted. After much thought, I realized that this was the exhaustion of over-stimulation. TOO MUCH ART. Now I plan ahead and pick ONE painting in each museum that I walk to directly when I enter. I do not look at anything else, I ignore the intended traffic pattern, I use the map (and now google) and I go right to my chosen beloved. Once I am safely in the zone of my painting, I sit and let it wash over me. I see the painting deeply. I sketch, I let my eyes rest, I enjoy. I am satisfied. If I happen to see any other art as I leave, this is fine, but I consider my visit completely accomplished as soon as I am done with the ONE.

I can’t show you the ONE at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo until tomorrow (Blue) but I can show you a screenshot of a corner of a painting by the same artist, Harald Sohlberg.

What lovely red, burning in the fjord. I research and learned that Sohlberg was a Norwegian Neo-Romantic. The Neo-Romantic is the 20th century call back to the Romantic era of art, design and literature. Romantic poets like Rosetti, romantic painters like Rosetti, focused on the feelings inspired by nature and the symbolism of myths and legends.

Neo-romanticism is defined by as

  1. A criticism of modern society as unconnected from nature.
  2. A wish or desire for a Utopian connection to nature uncoupled from social expectations and tradition.
  3. A rejection of the dichotomy between society and nature.

I must be a neo-romantic (the movement continues into the century in part because it is a reaction to consumerism and mass commercialization, which continues as well). When I look at a list of 20th century neo-romantics, I see everything I love

Lewis Carroll

John Ruskin

Edwar Elgar

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Ralph Vaughan Williams

W.B. Yeats

Rudyard Kipling

A.E. Housman

Maxfield Parrish

Samuel Barber

J.R.R. Tolkien

C.S. Lewis


So, I come to realize that I am less of an Anglophile and more a person attracted to the British repulsion of 20th Century American commercial domination of art and design in the everyday. I too am deeply interested in the meaning of PLACE.

No sketch or pattern today, too busy gawping at art.


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