Black plague, black Virgin, black holes, black humour: Humanity would be missing something if this color did not exist to express its states of mind, its suffering, its mysteries. But when it comes to representation, we sometimes hesitate. Certain periods of History almost banished black from their frescoes and paintings. Such was the case during the Middle Ages and the XVIIIth century, totally turned towards its faith in progress.Others on the contrary turned it into a true cult. Just think of the Romantics or at our XXth century so full of revolutions. From Malevitch to Rothko, Barnett Newman and Soulages, black is present everywhere. And it does not always have a negative conotation: we can well remember an advertising campaign in France that praised Portugal as "the country where black is colour". In order to expose the adventures of this colour like no other, the author started in the decorated grotto in the neolithic period and Dürer’s prints. Before reaching our era he looked at turning points represented by Piranese, Caravaggio, Friedrich, Goya, Munch. He even made a few unexpected encounters, such as the Nabis or Matisse. The last chapter looks into contemporary creators: the adventure is far from over.
• Black (Le noir) by Gérard-Georges Lemaire, Hazan editions, 2006, 256 p. 50€.
Review published in the newsletter #4 - from 18 May 2006 to 24 May 2006