The Power of Red
I love red! Essentially it’s symbol of life’s vitality and represents our heart, likely because it is the color of blood. Yet there are people who shy away from the color perhaps because of fear that it represents anger, warning or death.
I associate red with the basic things we need for survival and security––those things that give life! But also red represents power and prestige. We roll out the “red carpet” for VIPs.
I recently attended an event at the Harvard Art Museums dedicated entirely to the color red. The speaker, art historian and research curator Francesca Bewen, pointed out many popular perceptions (and perhaps misconceptions) of this primary color: caution, danger, halting (stop signs worldwide are red), errors (I still remember my teacher’s red ‘X’ marks next to wrong test answers).
She also addressed the fugitive nature of red and how it is one the most outstanding characteristics of all red pigments. This is a characteristic of many Mark Rothko murals famously commissioned by Harvard in the 1960s, which have since faded due to this phenomenon.
To exhibit the murals as the artist originally intended them to appear, the museum incorporated sophisticated light technology to counterbalance their current faded character.
It’s curious that like a burst of energy, the bold nature of red pigments historically dulls with time. Iron oxide reds are generally dull, and although red lead is bright, it blackens with age. The organic dyes derived from wood and insects tend to be more transparent, and are also fugitive. For the purpose of using a bright red, vermillion was used in combination with red lead. For interior use, historically such intense colors were reserved for small discreet elements because of the expense.
Although I crave all shades of color, red is one of my favorites. It represents energy, love, and passion, and it brightens any room, even when used in small ways. For example, this red trim against white walls infuses the room with warmth, character, and a little more love.
When I think of iconic red rooms, it’s always Diane Vreeland’s apartment that comes to mind.
Bear in mind red plays a significant role around the globe. It symbolizes good luck across Asia and is held in such high esteem that the majority of the world’s flags (about 77 percent) incorporate red into their design.
Tip: If you want more love, energy, and passion in your life, add a little red. Open your mind to the possibilities it has to offer. Red is full of potential!