Monochrome: Painting in Black and White
Lelia Packer, Jennifer Sliwka
The National Gallery, London, 2018
Why have artists chosen to paint in black and white over the last 700 years? Not just abstract artists like Malevich, Richter, and Riley, or modern artists like Picasso, but also artists you wouldn’t expect – van Eyck, Rembrandt, Dürer, and Ingres?
See what happens when these great artists put away their colourful palettes and instead focus only on shades of black, white, and grey.
Painting “without color” has long held a fascination for artists. In this striking and original book, the authors explore how and why artists from the 15th century to the present have chosen to paint in black, white, and shades of gray. Sometimes artists used trompe l’oeil monochromatic effects to represent other media, such as sculpture, prints, or photography; others have consciously limited their palette as a means of re-focusing the viewer’s attention, while contemporary artists such as Gerhard Richter and Bridget Riley have often found inspiration in pushing black and white to its limits, and in new directions. The authors trace the history of this art form, from the symbolism of sacred images in medieval church ritual – epitomized in Netherlandish painting from the 15th century onwards by Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck – to the modern era and the work of artists such as Josef Albers and Ellsworth Kelly.