Product Spotlight: Primary Red
"Red protects itself. No other colour is as territorial. It stakes a claim, is on the alert against the spectrum."
- Derek Jarman
After black and white, the first color that humans are able to perceive is the color red. Scientists have posited that societies developed names for colors according to which ones they had the strongest reaction to. Think of a bullfighter. Or a Louboutin.
Preferred Color for Royalty
In Chinese philosophy, red is one of the colors associated with the five elements of the world: red for fire, yellow for earth, white for metal, black for water, and green for wood. The fire element, red, is linked to dynamism, leadership, confidence, aggression, and hypersensitivity. When Chinese emperors asked their personal fortune tellers to choose a color that would bring the most prosperity and good fortune to their reign, red was the answer.
When the Spaniards landed in Mexico in the 1500s they discovered vividly dyed red textiles. In Europe, the substances used to make red dye (madder and kermes) produced a weaker, browner hue. The Aztec’s secret was cochineal, a small bug that was scraped off cactuses, dried, and then crushed. The Spaniards soon set up an extensive trading system to export cochineal to Europe. The influence of the color red can be seen in costume throughout European and Western Art History.
Portraiture, Cinema, & Beyond.
While artists work at-will with their color choices, it is interesting to see how frequently red is used in portraiture. Perhaps this can be attributed to the color’s vibrancy; attention-grabbing, and somehow mysterious.
In the film Get Out, costume designer Nadine Haders worked with director Jordan Peele to incorporate red elements into the costumes of the movie. In an interview with Vogue, Haders discussed the way she added in pops of red: “Red was a very important color in the film because it is symbolic of secret societies.”
A Study in Philosophy
Some of the most iconic logos are simply one color, red.
The Coca-Cola logo design reflects classic Americana; the two are synonymous with each other. When we think of classic America we simultaneously see the Coca-Cola logo, which gives the company both a nostalgic and cross-generational appeal.
The color red can denote passion, importance, and attention. When we explore the philosophy of Target, the colors used in their logo design match perfectly with the vision of the corporation. For such a simple logo, it’s incredible how much thought and effort went into creating it.
Henri Matisse was one of the first artists to use the pigment, cadmium red. He tried to convince his friend, Renoir, to use the pigment as well, but was unsuccessful. Mark Rothko also experimented with various red pigments that contributed to some of his strongest work.