Seeing Red: Art Museum Exhibits Features Renoir To Warhol

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The color red holds significant power in artwork, symbolizing a range of emotions and themes from passion and love to anger and danger. Its vibrant hue can evoke intense feelings, drawing the viewer’s eye and commanding attention. Artists often use red to create focal points, convey warmth, or suggest movement and energy. Historically, red has been associated with life and vitality, evident in works from ancient cave paintings to modern abstract pieces. Its versatility and emotional impact make red a timeless and essential color in the palette of artists across cultures and eras.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Tête de jeune fille (Head of a Young Girl), 1918, oil on canvas

The newest exhibit at Nassau County Museum of Art, “Seeing Red: Renoir to Warhol” is a major exhibition that will explore the many meanings, connotations, and associations of this powerful color in art.

Featuring more than 100 works by more than 70 artists, both established and emerging, ranging from the classical to the contemporary, in addition to Renoir and Warhol, artists whose work are included: Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Willem de Kooning, Salvatore Ferragamo, Paul Georges, Adolph Gottlieb, David Hockney, Robert Indiana, William King, Jeff Koons, Fernand Léger, Judith Lieber, Joan Miró, Robert Motherwell, Frank Olt, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Paul Resika, Mark Rothko, Gilbert Stuart, and Vivienne Westwood. 

Marc Chagall, King David with a Harp, 1965, oil on canvas

“We invite everyone to experience this fascinating color in myriad creative interpretations,” Beth Horn, executive director of NCMA said. “We expect visitors to be surprised and thrilled by the extraordinary range of works on view.”

The exhibit runs from July 20 through January 5. 

As German-American artist and educator, Josef Albers wrote in 1963, “If one says ‘Red’—the name of the color—and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.”

American portraitists such as Gilbert Stuart imbued red in their stately paintings of prominent individuals to conjure authority.

Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt and other major abstract painters displayed a deep fascination with red in their commanding compositions that evoke a sense of chromatic power.

Alexander Calder prominently employed red in his two-dimensional works and in the mobiles for which he is most famous.

Andy Warhol frequently used red in his artworks, from his bold and imposing silkscreened portrait of Vladimir Lenin saturated in bright red to his signature Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Evoking strong emotion, red can represent human condition. Its myriad variations have come to signify authority as well as love, energy, and beauty. Red warns us of peril and commands us to stop, but it also indicates purity and good fortune.

Paul Resika, Moon and Boat (Pendulum), 2003-07, oil on canvas

Red boldly represents political movements and religious identities. From the advent of our appreciation for this color in antiquity to its continued prominence in artistic and popular culture, this exhibition will span various world cultures through a range of media.

Artists today continue to captivate us with their interpretations of red through multiple perspectives.

Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) is located at 1 Museum Dr. in Roslyn Harbor. Visit www.nassaumuseum.org or call 516-609-9696 for more details. 

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