The Easel

The Red of Painters

Red carries a long cultural history. Medieval recipes for making red pigment make clear that “one could not do just anything with anything: vegetable was pure, animal was not; mineral was dead, vegetable and animal were living. [O]ften the essence of the operation consisted in making a material considered to be alive act upon a material considered to be dead: fire on iron; madder or kermes on aluminum salts; vinegar or urine on copper.”