Black and White Paintings

black and white paintings

In the strictest sense, white is the absence of color, but it is also true that black and white exist on the same spectrum.  On the neutral gray color spectrum, black and white are found on the extreme opposite ends intimating that restricting a painting’s colors to those of black and white, makes the painting monochromatic.

famous black and white paintings


Odalisque in Grisaille  (c. 1824 – 1834) Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres


Black Square  (1915) Kazimir Malevich


Guernica  (1937) Pablo Picasso

other notable paintings

Horse’s Skull with White Rose (1931) by Georgia O’Keeffe Zebra (1937) by Victor Vasarely Mahoning (1956) by Franz Kline The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II (1959) by Frank Stella Untitled (Black on Gray) (1969) by Mark Rothko

why is art b&w?

Black and white painters use the absence of color to maximize impact. The stark contrast between black and white emphasizes contrasting realities and ideals.

what are b&w paintings called?

Black and white artists produce paintings that are called monochrome paintings. Monochrome means one color; in terms of artwork, it refers to art that incorporates only one color.