BECon 2013: Richard Speer | Methods & Ideas

BECon 2013: Richard Speer


Speer presented this lecture on Thursday June 20, 2013 in Portland as part of BECon 2013: CHROMA-CULTURE.

Angel White and Devil Red: Color's Symbolism in History, Pop Culture, and Contemporary Glass

"Color," wrote the late painter Sam Francis, "is light on fire. It is also thought on fire. Throughout history and across cultures, colors have been laden with symbolic implications. As writer David Batchelor brilliantly demonstrated in his 2000 book, Chromophobia, saturated colors have long been equated with evil and decadence, while minimal or neutral colors have stood for purity and austerity. Why is this, and how has this dialectical approach manifested in historical, modern, and contemporary art? In this talk, author and art critic Richard Speer offers analysis spanning the realms of philosophy, literature, linguistics, gender studies, music, film, advertising, and the wider arena of popular culture. He also offers strategies for artists, particularly those who work with glass, to harness color's transformative power, both in the studio and during the course of everyday life.

Richard Speer is a contributing critic for ARTnews, Art Ltd., and Visual Art Source. Since 2002 he has been visual-arts critic at Willamette Week, the Pulitzer Prize-winning alternative newsweekly in Portland, Oregon. His essays about art, architecture, and music have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Opera News, and Salon. He is the author of Matt Lamb: The Art of Success, the biography of Outsider artist Matt Lamb (1932-2011).