Just the Red Garments From 16th and 17th-Century Painting


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Photo study in red: A montage of my own macro photographs of just red garments in 16th and 17th-Century paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, made from swatches of history, that contain some of its essences, memorialized through its use in photographs. Essentially it is a "remix" of art history using samples, similar to samples from sound recordings. It provokes contemplation of its ontological aspects: what the original cloth was made of, the sitter that wore the garment, and so on. Technology facilitates the continual re-contextualization of art and music history at the micro level: just one note or one bar in music, or one element in a painting.

Dyes used in the time of the paintings: Insect Red Cochineal, Iron and alum mordants. Fabrics: Felted Wollens, Silk, Cottons. Similar: Nouvelles Draperies.

Works by: Allori, Manfredi, Rubens, Murillo, Guercino, Crespi, Janssens, Jordaens


Isolation of elements in artwork is certainly nothing new. Recently I stumbled upon this devotional painting from 18th Century Columbia, in which the artist isolated the foreground figures and excluded the landscape background. The artist signed his name on the back of the painting noting that the work was "touched in the original", i.e. brought into contact with the source painting and thereby invested it with its mystical powers. Like musical samples, or swatch samples from garments, their powers can traverse through time and embed themselves in the present.