Red has long been the sort of color that shirks neutrality by design, regardless of the cultural associations at play. John Milton famously opined that “Celestial rosy red” was “love’s proper hue”, as did equally notorious literary layabout Rimbaud, who characterized lust as a “freckled red bitterness” more capacious than booze or poetry.
The first documented vermilion pigment, made from hyper-toxic cinnabar, was guarded by armed Roman infantrymen in Turkish vaults, and Pliny the Elder even reported that Roman victors covered their faces in the bright-red powder after enemies surrendered. In Asia, red is still associated with luck and prosperity, and routinely forbidden in any form, sartorial or otherwise, at Chinese funerals.
In Africa, red symbolizes grief and death; Nigerians in particular often deploy red in depictions of violence and sacrifice. Egyptians collect lucky charms in a variety of burgundy hues, and Iranians view the color as a conduit to courage.
Meanwhile, in the States, romance gurus insist that wearing red on a first date improves chances of being remembered and getting laid (not necessarily in that order). It’s been scientifically proven that since red draws attention and speeds the body’s blood flow, the color can actually make viewers feel hungry, hence the eye-catching signage of staples like McDonald’s and Burger King.
From Van Gogh’s maddeningly fugitive usage of minium (red lead) to Louboutin’s signature “bloody” shoe bottoms, red has taken root in our collective consciousness, a boon for artists looking to arrest the eye in an increasingly noisy attention economy.
For the bold collector, unafraid of turning heads, red art poses an opportunity to stop traffic, and here at Artspace, we’ve got your back. We’ve put together 10 pieces in every shade of scarlet, carmine, claret and cherry imaginable, hand-selected for the audacious buyers amongst you. With representation from blue-chip names like Alexander Calder, Takashi Murakami, Liliana Porter, and Keith Haring, you’ll be sure to find something that calls your name.
Flick through the module below and buy some works with real wallpower.