To kick off the start of the New Year, our color patron company Pantone has crowned Living Coral as the new color of the year.

With the increase of technology, social media and chaos that is happening globally around us, Living Coral is the perfect fit to start off 2019 with nothing but warmth, possibility and optimism.

Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eisemann said in regards to Living Coral:

Color is an equalizing lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities, and this is true for Living Coral. With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord.
Official promotional picture of Living Coral (pantone.com)

By choosing this color, Pantone made a pleasantly great, environmentally aware choice. They chose a color that is both mellow and yet so vibrant and lively. This coral hue with a golden undertone embraces so many things we need in our lives today; connection, intimacy, warmth, nourishment, authenticity, comfort, mindfulness and joy.

Promoted with images of endangered coral reefs in the oceans, this colour choice hopes to raise awareness on the dangers of pollution and climate change. Living Coral reminds us that we need to feel connected to nature, intimate with ourselves and seek protection whilst being surrounded by so much chaos and change.

This color had its fair share of appearances across modern art history, here are a couple of examples:

Alphonse Mucha – Dance:

Alphonse Mucha, Dance, Commercial art and posters, 60x38cm, 1898, (www.allposters.com)

Art Nouveau’s Alphonse Mucha was a Czech painter living in Paris. Since childhood, drawing had always been his first love, everything else came in second to drawing. He was most famous for his commercial posters that focused entirely on beautiful women in lavish settings with their hair curling in Arabesque forms while filling the entire frame. This form of art led to success in his lifetime, and even today, his exhibitions travel to Vienna, Prague, Munich, Brussels, London and New York; giving him an international reputation.

Emil Nolde – Large Poppies:

Emil Nolde, Large Poppies (cropped), Oil on canvas,  73.5×89.5cm, 1941, (www.wikiart.org)

Emil Nolde was a German expressionist, who -as the story goes- ‘nature seized by the throat with its overwhelming presence’. He always captured the spirit of expressionism, no matter which angle he chose. His paintings were seen and described as a ‘brutal wake up call.’ Hitler hated his work, as he did the manifestation of individual spirits. This led to Nolde‘s degeneracy charges as well as his being forbidden to paint! He began to paint in secret and called his paintings ‘unpainted pictures’The poppies he had chosen to paint spoke to him and said “this is your subject”. The poppies contain a riot of energy in their hues, and their scale in relation to the size of the canvas accentuates this energy, absolutely consuming its viewers.

Claude Monet – Sunset at Etretat:

Claude Monet, Sunset at Etretat, Oil on canvas, 85.7×105.4cm, 1883, (www.claude-monet.com)

In true Monet fashion, the artist painted 18 different views of the Etretat, studying the effect of changes in the sun’s position in the sky as well as the season in the year on his colour palette choice. This was one of the 18 views Monet decided to capture during his stay in his native city Normandy. The cliffs at the Etretat resort were called the Elephant and the needle because of their shapes. It captures his awe of these cliffs as well as his consistent desire to do them justice. What isn’t shown is his struggle with the ever-changing weather, tides and the difficult terrain he had to deal with, but in true artist fashion he overcame the struggles by setting up an easel on the shore as to closely observe his subject. The hint of Living Coral in the sky adds the warm tones needed in the work to highlight the surrounding cooler hues.

Henri Matisse – Large Reclining Nude (Pink Nude):

Henri Matisse, Large Reclining Nude (Pink Nude), Oil on Canvas, 92.7x66cm, 1935 (www.arthive.com)
Multiple photographs showing progression of Pink Nude by unknown photographer (majabogdanicblog.wordpress.com)

In this important work, Matisse uses a mixture of different techniques to achieve a texture similar to that of frescoes on flat plaster surfaces. This work marks the beginning of Matisse’s career in using paper cut-outs; he used the cut-outs in his painting’s progression to cover parts of the frame and abstract the rest. The progress of this work was caught on camera in the months leading up to its completion. The model in this painting is Lydia Delektroskaya, who helped Matisse in his cut-out works later in his career. The figure illuminates with the energy given to it through the use of Living Coral. Picasso describes Matisse’s use of the color red, or hues of red as monumental and important to the painting itself. He says “red is the heart of the work, if you were to remove a spot, no matter how small, the entire painting collapses”.

Fun Fact: Most of Matisse’s work during the years of 1935 and 1936 were nudes.

Pablo Picasso – The Watering Palace:

Pablo Picasso, The Watering Palace, Gouache on tan paperboard, 37.8×58.1cm, 1905-1906, (www.arthive.com)

This is known to be a chronological sequel to the Family of Saltimbanques (La Suite des Saltimbanques); it is the 8th plate to be exact. This series was a first of its kind in etching. In this artwork, Picasso pays homage to his artistic influences including the likes of Gauguin, Cezanne, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, and William Holman Hunt. The shade of coral here brings animation and lively movement to the scene it captures.

Mark Rothko – Red and Pink on Pink:

Mark Rothko, Red and Pink on Pink, tempera on paper with acrylic painted surround, 100.6×64.1cm, 1953,  (www.focusonrothko.com)

Rothko is known for his large, monochromatic works of art that emphasize their colours spiritually more than anything else. He refused to follow trends or be pinned down into any raging art movement, so he created his own painting style and tends to be identified as an abstract expressionist. Rothko said about his paintings “to paint a larger picture, means you are in it”. Thus, creating a sense of intimacy, awe and humanity in the viewers’ eyes as well as a sense of transcendence to the unknown. The use of bright colors in this work is merely an expression of energy and ecstasy that results in the transcendental experience as mentioned above.

Henri Matisse – The Dance I:

Henri Matisse, The Dance I, Oil on Canvas, 259.7x 390.1cm, 1909, (www.henrimatisse.org)
Matisse, Bonheur de Vivre (The Joy of Life), Oil on Canvas, 176.5×240.7cm, 1905-1906 (wiki.org)

In 1909, Matisse received an important commission from Russian Industrialist Sergei Shchukin who asked the artist for 3 large-scale canvases to decorate the spiral staircase of his mansion: The Trubetskoy Palace in Moscow. Two versions of The Dance were created, with subtle yet very important differences in colour brightness and composition. Matisse borrows the composition from an earlier painting of his entitled Bonheur de Vivre, which also contained lots of the Living Coral hue all over.  The dancing figures in his painting are of emotional character, and express light pleasures and joy.

Georgia O’Keefe – Red Hills with Flowers:

Georgia O’Keefe, Red Hills with Flowers, Oil on canvas, 50.8×63.5cm, 1937, (www.artic.edu)

Georgia O’Keefe is one of the most famous artists in American history, and is known for painting still lifes and nature, and was part of the Precisionism movement. She is dubbed as the mother of American Modernism. In the above artwork, she takes up the subject of flower petals with mountains in the background. The painting is monochromatic in the general sense, and O’Keefe opted to use bright yellow  and red’s complementary green to contour her flowers and create some implied depth in this work. Her focus and close up of the petal shows her level of precision and attention to detail.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – The Luncheon of the Boating Party:

Pierre Auguste Renoir, The Luncheon of the Boating Party, oil paint, 129.3x172cm, 1881, (www.en.wikipedia.org )

Renoir was one of the many French impressionists of his time, he was known for combining still lifes and landscapes in a single painting. The Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of the most famous paintings to date, it depicts Renoir’s friends relaxing on a balcony of the most popular destination of their time, the Maison Fournais restaurant along the Seine River in Chatou, France. One of the friends depicted, is his future wife, Aline Charigot seen petting the little dog.  One of the reasons Renoir was interested in this location, was for the number of people watching and its artistic potential. Living Coral can be seen in the umbrellas protecting the figures from the intensity of the summer sun, as well as dispersed around the composition to create balance in colour.

Paul Signac – The Pink Cloud:

Paul Signac, The Pink Cloud, Oil on Canvas, 92x73cm, 1916, (www.wikiart.org)

This is known to be one of the most colorful and vibrant paintings in Antibes; it depicts a sailing boat with a big pink cloud over it. Signac uses his signature style of Pointillism in this painting, which takes advantage of the eye’s ability to see little dots of color creating one solid picture. He uses many bright colors as well as warm colors such as oranges, yellows and pinks in order to create the effect of constant motion. You can also peak that the time of day captured was probably sunset; from how the sunset affects the whole painting with its colors, and light.

Read Pantone Color of the Year 2018: Ultra Violet in Art History

All images courtesy indicated in captions.


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Haya Abdul Hadi

I graduated from American University in Beirut with a degree in Sociology and Psychology. I am an aspiring and ambitious writer with a love for reading, traveling, and pandas. I believe in having a dream, and a passion and just going for it without question and hesitation. So just go for it, or as Nike says “Just do it!” Always dream big, work hard and be happy.

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