AMMAN- Colour moguls Pantone chose a deep shade of blue called Classic Blue as the colour of 2020. Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eisemann said in regards to Classic Blue:

We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is a kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Imbued with a deep sense of resonance, Classic Blue offers an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the fast and infinite evening sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.

By choosing this color, Pantone made an elegant yet simple choice. This color stands for many grounding qualities, it gives hope to this new phase of our lives which has been filled with uncertainty and mystery. It offers a foundation of dependability, trust, confidence, constancy and comfort. 

The color blue in art history has changed over time, in the sense of highlighting what is considered important at the time. Historically, it was a color reserved for holy depictions of the Virgin Mary in biblical artworks and portraits of the social elite. As time passed the colour slowly took new meanings and importance in different cultures. Here are a few works from across the world that highlight the changes in meaning the color blue took over time:

The Virgin in Blue by Giovanni Battista Savi and Boushra Al Moutawakel:

Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, The Virgin in Prayer, Oil on Canvas, 73x58cm, 1640-1650, Rome
Boushra Al Moutwakel, Untitled, Photographic Print, 54x100cm, 2001

The virgin Mary is one of the most celebrated representations in the Renaissance period. In Giovanni Battista‘s depiction, she is seen covered by an ultramarine blue veil with her hands in prayer. The blue highlights the virgin and her central role in Christianity. In comparison, Yemeni artist Boushra Al Moutawakel’s appropriation of the work in the untitled triptych shows the artist in a Blue Yemeni veil practicing three different prayer poses from the three main monotheist religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism. These similarities in pose, colour and concept highlight the role religion has played throughout art history.

Farouk Lambaz:

Farouk Lambaz, Speak of the Wealth Which God has Given You, Oil Pastel on Paper, 2008, The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts

A Jordanian artist who used the color blue synonymously with Islamic calligraphy created in his art works. Since the 1960’s, Lambaz has skillfully been crafting calligraphic paintings. In his work, blue highlights the homage he pays to his Arab Islamic heritage. Each painting is consumed in an atmosphere of peace and spirituality.

Alia Ali:

Alia Ali is a Yemeni-Bosnian-American multimedia artist who is known for blurring the lines between dualities  in her artwork. She compares the objective and subjective, illusion and reality, truth and interpretation. This is clearly seen in her series Flux where Alia depicts different women dressed in clashing patterns disguised against colourful backgrounds.

Dia Azzawi:

Dia Azzawi, Sumerian Figures, Oil on Canvas, 81.5 x 93.5 cm, 1975, via Bonhams.

Dia Azzawi is an Iraqi painter and sculptor, and a pioneer of modern Arab art. He’s known for incorporating Arabic script into his painting; thus combining abstract and classical styles into one. His fascination and admiration for his country, his heritage, and stories of the past is visible in his artwork as seen in this painting from 1975.

Mohanna Durra:

Mohanna Durra, Clown, Oil on Canvas, 57×43cm, 2004

Durra is a painter who pioneered the Jordanian art movements and introduced cubism and abstract art into the Jordanian visual arts community. He is known for his portraits and treatment of shifting masses of color.  His interest with portraiture stems from the powerful impact facial expressions can create. While his abstract paintings blur the line between painting and relief sculptures, the blocks of monochromatic colours section his canvases into analogous colour schemes.

Picasso’s Blue period (1901-1904):

Pablo Picasso, The Tragedy, Oil on wood, 105.25x69cm, 1903, Barcelona.

During this period, Picasso has made many monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green. In 1901, he sank into a deep depression and slowly blue tones dominated his paintings mirroring his anguished mood. His subject matter changed to the poor and forgotten people of society.  Here, Blue highlighted the artist’s melancholic psychological state at that period in his career.

Yves Klein, Blue Monochrome, Dry pigment in polyvinyl acetate on cotton over plywood, 195.1 x 140 cm, 1961, MoMA.

In 1958, Klein started to extensively use Blue as the signature component of his art. Klein even created and copyrighted his own shade called International Klein Blue, IKB for short, which he used in many of his monochromatic works and performance pieces. The colour later seeped into contemporary pop culture and was popularized by the work of performance artists the Blue Man Group.