Monochrome Art

the burden of meaning

Monochromatic artwork limits itself to one color, including either white or black to manipulate tone.  The monochromatic definition in art varies but the earliest images ever made on earth were of course monochrome as prehistoric paintings predated pigment technology.

history of monochrome

While the formal concept of monochrome painting was established for religious or monastic purposes, it caught on and eventually became a desirable art form.

whistler and the white cube

In an 1883 exhibition, J.M. Whistler presented new works that were white, monochrome, mounted in white frames, and hung on walls that were also white.

whistler and the white cube

With his exhibition, Whistler solidified white as the austere and exclusive color of the artistic elite. The White Cube is elegant and pristine, but also sterile and unwelcoming.

malevich's black square

Malevich wanted to “free the painting from the burden of the object”. Without subject matter, the viewer could focus on the monochromatic artwork’s formal issues.

international klein blue

Yves Klein fully devoted himself to paintings that did not just appear blue, but were also about blue. Klein went on to invent his own hue of blue, which he dubbed “International Klein Blue”.

the influence of pollock

Pollock is one of the most well-known Abstract Expressionist painters. His technique, action painting, consisted of splashing, throwing, and pouring paint onto the canvas.

future of monochrome

Monochromatic art offers us opportunities to consider what art is for and what it is capable of. It has proven itself as painting’s best response to advances in new media.