"A Red Like No Other"  How Cochineal Colored the World

"A Red Like No Other" How Cochineal Colored the World

A global symbol of power, wealth and mystery, the color red has throughout history seduced viewers and inspired the human imagination. For hundreds of years, painters and other artists engaged in a quest for the source of the perfect red- one that would convey the luxury, spirit, and substance of living. Indigenous Americans had long perfected ways to derive brilliant red dye from the cochineal insect, which in Mexico was selectively bred on its prickly pear cactus host. There in the1520s, Spanish invaders found it pressed into cake shapes in the grand Aztec markets. When Europeans realized that cochineal yielded more dazzling and abundant color than existing dyes, it became a commodity prized almost as highly as gold. The ensuing global spread of cochineal forever changed art, culture, science, and trade. "A Red Like No Other" follows the precious bug juice from Mexico to Europe and beyond as it insinuated itself into all forms of art, politics, and commerce to color the world in vivid red hues. More than three hundred images show how the colorant has touched cultures and artists worldwide, including pre-Columbian weavers, painters and sculptors of Spain's Golden Age, Middle Eastern rug makers, Navajo weavers, and Hispanic American folk artists. El Greco, Tintoretto, Velazquez, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh used it, as did Spanish fashion icon Mariano Fortuny. Today contemporary artists and designers continue to embrace cochineal for its beauty and meaning. Accompanying a major exhibition organized by the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this volume brings together essays by an international team of more than forty experts. Their wide spectrum of original research illuminates the symbolism of red, the material significance of cochineal in art, science, and trade, and the history of the artists driven to create and express the perfect red. Edited by Carmella Padilla & Barbara Anderson
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A global symbol of power, wealth and mystery, the color red has throughout history seduced viewers and inspired the human imagination. For hundreds of years, painters and other artists engaged in a quest for the source of the perfect red- one that would convey the luxury, spirit, and substance of living. Indigenous Americans had long perfected ways to derive brilliant red dye from the cochineal insect, which in Mexico was selectively bred on its prickly pear cactus host. There in the1520s, Spanish invaders found it pressed into cake shapes in the grand Aztec markets. When Europeans realized that cochineal yielded more dazzling and abundant color than existing dyes, it became a commodity prized almost as highly as gold. The ensuing global spread of cochineal forever changed art, culture, science, and trade. "A Red Like No Other" follows the precious bug juice from Mexico to Europe and beyond as it insinuated itself into all forms of art, politics, and commerce to color the world in vivid red hues. More than three hundred images show how the colorant has touched cultures and artists worldwide, including pre-Columbian weavers, painters and sculptors of Spain's Golden Age, Middle Eastern rug makers, Navajo weavers, and Hispanic American folk artists. El Greco, Tintoretto, Velazquez, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh used it, as did Spanish fashion icon Mariano Fortuny. Today contemporary artists and designers continue to embrace cochineal for its beauty and meaning. Accompanying a major exhibition organized by the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this volume brings together essays by an international team of more than forty experts. Their wide spectrum of original research illuminates the symbolism of red, the material significance of cochineal in art, science, and trade, and the history of the artists driven to create and express the perfect red. Edited by Carmella Padilla & Barbara Anderson

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