Category Archives: Red Art

Red Artwork is Worth Fortunes

 

The color red is loud. It makes statements and sends signals. But the impact it has on the world of contemporary art goes beyond trendsetting. People are trading their fortunes for predominately red artwork.

At a recent auction, Sotheby’s in London recognized a shocking trend: five of the six highest-selling masterpieces were mostly red.

Forbes contributor Danielle Rahm points out that this sale took place right before Valentine’s Day. However, it is hard to believe the romantic holiday could drum up the prices of red artwork to nearly 30 million dollars.

Alex Brancik head of Contemporary Art for Sotheby’s in London sheds light on this expensive trend. “Red is a color that incites passion. It’s the color of the sunset, it’s the color of blood,” he says. “When we’re pricing things we’re aware of the power of red.”

Putting feelings of romance and passion aside, what encouraged the buyer of Sotheby’s recent high seller (Wand by Gerhard Richter) to spend 28.7 million dollars on the piece? New sales numbers show that increased value of contemporary artwork infused with the color red may depend less on Valentine’s Day or emotional influences and more on the buyer’s cultural heritage.

Affluent Cultures Embrace the Color Red

To be more specific, affluent cultures may be the reason why certain pieces of contemporary art are selling high.

Countries all over the world embrace the color red. A number of these nations are located in Asia. In China, for instance, red is synonymous with luck and joy. In addition, on special occasions, Chinese nationals extend their cultural roots by offering a monetary gift known as a “red envelope.”

Considering the positive message red sends, it is understandable why red artwork may be appealing to people who live in China. In fact, Christie’s auction house reported that “…one in three of its customers were new in 2013, many of whom came from emerging markets such as China,” and “Sotheby’s estimates that China now accounts for $14 billion of the $58 billion global art market.” Sales reports go onto claim that there was a 36 percent increase of art sales in Asia and the Middle East. Another interesting fact shows the rate at which European’s purchase art dropped by 12 percent while the Americas, Hong Kong and Dubai all increased their fine art spending.

Nevertheless, China is viewed as playing a prominent role in the current health of the contemporary art market. An Associated Press article claims that China is “one reason the art market has rebounded from the global financial crisis of 2008.” People with new affluence in China are collecting contemporary artwork and may be encouraging art trends more than any color could alone.

While red has proven emotional draws and psychological intrigue, some wonder if growing affluence in China is the reason why red artwork is worth a fortune.

Read more Segmation blog posts about red artwork:

The Color Red and its Many Meanings

A Closer Look at the Color Red

Red and Green are an Unlikely Pair

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A Closer Look at the Color Red

How do you feel when you gaze at a large red Rothko painting, spend time in a room with regal red wallpaper, or see a stop sign?  While the color red carries different meanings depending on its context, the body’s biological response is the same: red can raise both your pulse and your blood pressure.  Additionally, red can even make you feel hungry by increasing your body’s metabolism – which is why many restaurants use the color red in their logos and decor!

Red is the longest visible light wave, ranging from light pinks to deep crimsons that have a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm.  Our modern word “red” comes from the Old English word rēad.  This warm, eye-catching color has strong meanings that tap into the heart of various human emotions and experiences, depending on the specific context in which it is found.

For instance, in Western culture, red can signify anger and aggression (as in “blood red” or “a face that turns red with anger”), but it can also denote love, lust and passion (from red roses to the red-light district).  It also functions as a strong warning color that represents danger or emergencies.

On the other hand, the color red in China is related to happiness and good fortune.  In both China and India, red is the traditional color for wedding dresses.  In Africa however, red is associated with death and mourning.

Red is one of the earliest pigments used by our prehistoric ancestors, who made red ochre pigment from clay to paint the walls of caves.  Red pigments have been created from several surprising sources, such as crushed cochineal insects used to make carmine red.  Madder lake derives from the roots of the madder plant, while vermilion was made from powdered mineral cinnabar, which is a red mercury ore.  These days, most red artists’ pigments are created synthetically in factories, including hues such as poppy red, cadmium red, rose, alizarin crimson, and quinacridrone magenta.

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A New Perspective on Color

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We often talk about linear perspective — the way the shape and appearance of an object changes with distance — but the phenomenon known as color perspective is equally important. Also known as “aerial perspective,” it deals with the way that distance and interference from the air alters colors in landscapes, backgrounds, and other elements of a painting.

How are colors changed by distance? Most hues begin to look more blue as they get further away. Even reds, oranges, and yellows lose vibrancy and become lighter and hazier due to the volume of air between the viewer and the object. A brightly colored object will seem just as bright in contrast to nearby items, even if it is far away – but it will look a whole lot less bright in comparison to something closer to the viewer.

Weather also impacts color perspective by altering hues slightly. Cloudy conditions, sunrise, and sunset all affect the way colors appear, and an experienced artist knows to take that into account rather than painting every object as if it was near and in full sunlight.

Considering color perspective means thinking about the assumptions we make in our art. If a house is red or a tree’s leaves are green, those colors aren’t constant; they change with distance, weather, and the quality of light at a given time of day – all things that an artist needs to think about when painting for realism.