February 14th celebrates love and connectedness. Like most holidays, Valentine's Day has become an opportunity to market and sell products, but it’s hard to ignore the day and the ads, when the sentiment it’s promoting is love and friendship. In the visual realm, the holiday is about color; reds, pinks and fuchsias, and about shape; hearts, hearts and more hearts!
The spectrum of color symbolizes all that’s synonomous with Valentine’s Day. Red is about passion, love, desire and also energy, strength and power. Red is interesting, people love it…or they don’t. There are artists recognized for their strong use of color, particularly red. Abstract Expressionist Barnett Newman, known as a color field painter for his canvases of pure flat color that expressed his philosophies (not for this post), had numerous solid red paintings. Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950-51, from his Zip Series, is in MOMA's permanent collection.
Also minimal, this photograph by Elisa Keogh captures the colors of a vibrant sunset, red contrasted with warm golds, from her Horizon series.
Anne Raymond's artwork has a strong focus on color. Clients and I often gravitate towards her blue canvases, but for red-lovers, her paintings are very appealing. Cadmium pairs the color of the red dye itself with natural greens and golds for a strong but warm result.
Painter Xanda McCagg uses layers of color, texture and line in her work. Struck, covers this range of colors in a small canvas, 10.5"x8.5"
Shelli Breidenbach is known for her equestrian photography, which is featured in Ralph Lauren stores throughout the world. One of her series Red, is bold, she silhouettes the horses against strong colorful backgrounds to create a graphic image.
Pink, at the opposite end of the red spectrum is a softer color that also symbolizes love and romance, and in addition, caring and tenderness. Andrea Bonfils uses pinks with reds in her mixed media reference to Mark Rothko, Rothko Pink Window
The heart shape has been the symbol of love and emotion since the Middle Ages. The first recorded drawing of a heart was documented in 1250 and ever since, hearts have been and remain popular with artists and collectors. From subtle and abstract, Red February ll, in a series by Raymond,
to fun and bold. “Drippy Heart”, from Kerri Rosenthal, one of many in her successful heart series.
Actress Drew Barrymore recently published a photography book devoted to her heart collection. "I have always loved hearts…the way that a continuous line accomplishes the most extraordinary thing--it conveys love." Her book Find It In Everything, contains the photos of heart-shaped objects and patterns she has come across in everyday life and photographed over the past ten years, from a bowl of cut tomatoes
to a random paper on the street
Contemporary artist, Jim Dine, is renowned for his heart-filled artwork, prints, paintings and sculptures. He combines the influence of Pop Art, with everyday objects and hearts. For Dine, the hearts function as a "sign that one can care, that there is a constant presence of feeling." From a colorful print, Four Hearts, 1969
Valentine's Day is about feelings, and the day is drenched in warm colors; from pinks to strong reds, and visions of hearts everywhere to convey the feelings. I will overlook the ads and the commercial aspect of the holiday…because I like that it’s a day that speaks to the sentiments of friendship and love and connectedness.
And, I'll enjoy the chocolates that seem to be everywhere…Happy Valentine's Day!