Contemporary Art – Purple
Contrasting purple or should I say violet which is it’s name as it appears in the colour spectrum.
“Violet has the shortest wavelength of the spectrum. Behind it, the invisible ultraviolet. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. Poor violet, violated for a rhyme.“
Derek Jarmen, English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener and author, 1942–1994
I use a lot of purple and violet because for most people it is unexpected colour, or a colour reserved for child’s play. Yet it goes with so much as for me it can be both a cool and warm colour at the same time.
It brings warmth and richness and almost royalty to any decor.
“The Tyrian colour is most appreciated when it is the colour of clotted blood, dark by reflected and brilliant by transmitted light.”
Pliny, the Roman philosopher, and author of Historia Naturalis in 77 CE.
The intermediate colour between blue and red, purple, has a wide variety of shades. Often associated with majesty and mystery, purple is naturally found in a wide variety of flowers and has become nearly synonymous with various royal families. Ranging from light, lilac hues to the deep shades of purple associated with aristocracy, purple colors are as varying as they are fascinating. Violet, purple, lilac, jacaranda, plum, fuchsia and on the list goes.
There’s so many colours in the spectrum of purple – here is a list of 140 different combinations by name. Since classical antiquity, purple has been highly valued colour directly linked to royalty and power. According to ancient Greek myth, Tyrian purple was discovered by the hero Heracles, whose dog’s drool turned purple after the dog ingested a Murex sea snail.The mollusc was native to the ancient town of Tyre, and each snail yielded just one drop of dye, thus requiring at least 250,000 snails to produce a single ounce.
“The range in brightness from the purple glow [of the sunset] to the dark sky above is too great for most films, and naturally it is beyond the range of printed pictures”
James Elkins, American art professor and author, b. 1955
An imperial purple was reserved for the Emperor who was referred to as ‘The Purple’. During the Byzantine period, Empresses gave birth in the purple chamber, and emperors who referred to us having been born in the purple, if they took the throne through birth rather than by force. In 16th Century, Elizabethan England, strict sumptuary laws governing what people could wear dictated that only those closest to the royal family were permitted to wear purple. In Japan, purple was traditionally symbolised position and wealth, and in China, it was the colour of aristocracy.
In mid-19th century England, purple was suddenly democratised through the chance discovery of the synthetic dye named mauveine, an electric colour that set in train a revolution in the production of synthetic colorants.
“Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.“
Regina Brett, journalist and author, b. 1956
Whenever I pick out a purple paint I feel somehow decadent. Yet in the Australian outdoors there is violet and purple everywhere. The blooming jacaranda’s, the subtleties of sunrise and sunset, the iris’s, pansies and other flowers in the garden. All inspire me to push my colour palette in different directions
Purple stimulates, excites, it’s vividly exquisite. It brings vibrancy to any space. Purple is never crass, purple is always alluring. I use purple in many of my paintings.