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Passion for Monochrome art

The National Gallery of London dedicates an exhibition with half a hundred pieces to inquire into the work of artists who gave up the variety of colors

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Passion for Monochrome art

The National Gallery of London has inserted an eminently monochrome islet between explosion of color of its pinacoteca to speak of those artists who in ir day renounced variety of shades of palette in favor of visual power of black and white. Half a hundred works deployed by five of its halls comprise a tour of lights and shadows over more than 700 years, from mediaeval artistic expressions to most recent contemporary proposals.

The paintings and drawings that museum of Trafalgar Square exhibits until 18th of February have as a nexus resource to black and white or to an intermediate gradation that, according to time and context, can respond to both free choice of author for aestic reasons or emotion Ales as to practical sense or even to pure necessity. That last was case of Cistercian monks in Middle Ages who, forced to obviate "forbidden fruit" of color in stained-glass windows of ir churches (because y distracted m from ir garing in prayer), y cultivated in ir art scale of grays of Grisaille.

The section of a panel executed in 14th century for Church of Saint-Denis (Paris), in translucent grey glass, with silver motifs and gleams in yellow, is exhibited at beginning of sample as an example of rapid expansion of technique of Grisaille in or centers Religious of Europe. The piece today integrates funds of Victoria Albert, one of great museums that participate with ir loans in monochrome exhibition: Painting in Black and white, as well as Thyssen-Bornemisza or El Prado, among ors.

Enlarge photo ' room for a color ', by Olafur Eliasson's work, at its 2015 exhibition at Stockholm Museum of Modern Art. Olafur Eliasson

The first of se two institutions of Madrid brings a diptych of Annunciation signed by Jan van Eyck (1433-1435) to illustrate spectacularness with which white on Black can create illusion of a sculptural group. Imitating appearance of sculpted stone has been a challenge that artists have faced over centuries with extraordinary expertise, for example, of Jacob de Wit: It is difficult not to confuse his picture Jupiter and Ganymede (1739) with a three-dimensional relief. or unravel how Hendrik Goltzius manages to make painting Ceres and Bacchus (1606), ceded for occasion by Hermitage of Saint Petersburg, looks like an engraving.

The invention of photography in 1839, and later film, continues to stimulate painters to respond or compete with new media. In sixties of last century Gerhard Richter used a press photo of a prostitute murdered as a base for table Helga Matura, whose subject is guessed blurred in gradations of Gray, which he considered " ideal color for indifference".

Before an expressive resource, omission of color was five centuries before an option especially practice that allowed artists to concentrate on composition, in light and shadows that model figures and objects, to n capture m in canvas with all ir Colorful. And to reuse se patterns again and again, as in case of a study of robe of Saint Matw for a Renaissance painting-attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio-whose details also appear in fresco of a church of San Gimignano (Italy).

The skill and talent that denoted se preparatory work ended up converting many proposals of monochrome into works mselves. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres takes that idea to utmost sophistication when rethinking and rerun in black and white its oil Great Odalisque (1824-1834). Passionate about work of Great Masters, a Picasso in old age also worked in black and white his series of paintings around Velázquez's Meninas, among which National Gallery exposes Infanta Margarita Maria, from Picasso Museum in Barcelona .

' Las Meninas (Infanta Margarita María) ' (1957), by Picasso.

In final section of exhibition, attraction of abstract artists by absence of color and ir impacting or provocative results has as a stellar part Black square that suprematist Kazimir Malevich inserted floating between limits of a frame White. The journey through historical continuity and diversity of monochrome technique, from Middle Ages to this last iconic work of avant-garde, has its epilogue in a completely nude room. Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen, 1967), famous for its facilities, has illuminated space with yellow sodium lamps that suppress rest of light frequencies: total experience of monochrome world.

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