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Bleu Histoire D'une Couleur

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  363 ratings  ·  25 reviews

Blue has a long and topsy-turvy history in the Western world. Once considered a hot color, it is now icy cool. The ancient Greeks scorned it as ugly and barbaric, but most Americans and Europeans now pick it as their favorite color. In this entertaining history, the renowned medievalist Michel Pastoureau traces the changing meanings of blue from its rare appearances in pre

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Published (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Kalliope
YOUTHFUL BLUES



We are so used to see colours at their best that we no longer see their richness. Any tone, any tint, any hue now is as it should be.

But it wasn’t always like this. Not too long ago, endowing colours to objects was a difficult, expensive, laborious, and sometime politically dangerous endeavour. Back then it was not so much their chromatic tone as their depth that mattered. Luminosity and richness, saturation and concentration were the valued qualities of a colour. Those were the
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Ruth Charchian
Who would have thought that the color blue was not only hated but not named, or tolerated until the 14th century. Prior to that time it was thought to be a "hot" color. Now it is considered to be a "cool" color. It was culturally and socially unacceptable to wear blue. Today, most people prefer blue to any other color. Our culture accepts it primarily due to the unversal acceptance of blue jeans beginning with Levi Strauss in the 1850s. Red, white and black were the only recognized colors for ce ...more
Nat
The author begins this history with audacious claims about the irrelevance (p.10) of human biology to the "process of ascribing meaning to color", insisting instead that color is a "social phenomenon". The author does a fine job illustrating the second claim throughout the book, showing how attitudes towards colors change over time with changes in religious belief and social practices. But the first, audacious claim has to be false. There is ample evidence that the structure of color perception ...more
Mark
I just realized I had never posted this. Unlikely as it seems, this coffee table book was a fascinating look at how blue came to be the most popular color among artists and in society, and taught me for the first time that there were sumptuary laws in various nations at various times designed to restrict the type and color of clothing commoners could wear so they didn't compete with the raiment of royalty. As I recall, one factoid was that the popularity of black and white for men's clothing, st ...more
MARTI
Heyecanlı ve ilginç başlayan, ortalarında biraz sıkıcı sularda yüzen, sonlara doğru yine baştaki temposunu yakalayan bir okuma.

Mavi'yi neredeyse görmediği düşünülen Romalılar ve Antik Yunanlılar'dan blue jean'e, Fransız bayrağına, dini motiflerden gök kuşağına, modaya, resim sanatına, edebiyata, hüzne (still got the blues!) ve değişen toplumsal yargılara dair bilgilendirici, düşündürücü ve eğlendirici bir çalışma.
Marie-aimée
Un bon essai, la première partie est très poussée, notamment l'interprétation de la couleur bleue durant l'Antiquité, avec des précisions très pertinentes sur ce que le mot lui-même impliquait sur la manière de percevoir la couleur même, certains passages sont presque philosophiques. Les autres parties sont moins poussées même si elles restent intéressantes.
Raphaël
Bonne lecture, très agréable, sujet original... on souhaiterait que certains aspects de cette histoire du Bleu soient un peu plus développés (notamment toute la partie sur l'Antiquité).
Alexandra
Did you know blue has been the favourite colour of Westerners over the last couple of centuries?

An intriguing idea, although not entirely well executed. I enjoyed the broad sweep of time that Pastoureau attempted to cover - the Neolithic and ancient use of colour very briefly, the medieval world and on in a bit more detail - because the comparison across hundreds of years is fascinating. Unsurprisingly though, this was also one of its downfalls, since the occasional times it treated an idea or
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Jacques le fataliste et son maître
Accurata e stimolante analisi della percezione, dell’uso, della fortuna dei colori in Europa, dall’epoca dei romani alla seconda metà del Novecento. Il protagonista è il blu, ma dato che questo colore ha dovuto “farsi spazio”, a partire dal XII secolo, nell’ambito di un sistema culturale dominato dalla triade bianco, nero, rosso e in cui non gli era accordata grande importanza, la riflessione dell’autore prende necessariamente in considerazione anche gli altri colori, i loro significati sociali, ...more
Sanjay Varma
A lot of fascinating information linking color to material sciences, perception, religion, social and economic structures. The big story is that all cultures had a 3 color system consisting of white, black, and red. The rise of blue's prevalence in heraldry, paintings, and cloth, from the 11th century, was a profound shift. It's hard to comprehend that the sea used to be depicted as green, and blue had no association with divinity or purity. Blue was helped along by being unregulated... a lack o ...more
Marya
I really liked what I read, but I was unable to finish the book before the due date.
Osura Hettiarachchi
This si the first book I finished in this year.
Margaret Sankey
I always enjoy Pastoureau's lavishly illustrated books about the history of color--this one traces blue, neglected by the ancient world in favor of white, red and black, associated with barbarians because of woad and indigo, but rehabilitated by Saint-Denis' decorating scheme and elevated to the signature color of the Virgin Mary and the French monarchy. With sidelights on the economic battle between woad and madder (red) dyers, Protestant austerity and blue, Young Werther's blue coat and yellow ...more
Stephanie
While this book is full of pictures, it is very imformative. It discusses the history of color pigment, use and maeaning, and not only of the color blue. For example red was made from madder, a rusty red, and was the most common with yellow and black till the middle ages? Purple came from sea urchins and blue from lapis rocks.
Very interesting, and since its translated from the original French, I'd like to know just how Euro-centric it is.
Sarah
Pastoureau's other books were already on my "to-read" list, but after finishing this one they've all jumped up to the top. It is heavy on French history -- I would have happily traded several pages about the French flag for more on other topics -- but overall it's a fascinating study, well-translated (so far as I can tell) and beautifully illustrated.
Tonileg
Oct 17, 2014 Tonileg marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guides, french, ya-reads
J'adore l'histoire de médecine ainsi que l'histoire de cuisine en Europe alors maintenant, c'est l'histoire des couleurs qui m'attire... Donc voici, la couleur bleue dans les payes européens de l’antiquité et l’époque médiévale. J'ai vu que Michel Pastoureau a fait une suite sur la couleur noire.

217 pages (dont 161-217 c'est une bibliographie)
Wm
Fascinating and very approachable for a lay audience. In particular, his explanations of how earlier cultures thought about/related to color and incorporated it in to their philosophical and material cultures were eye opening and foreign and really interesting.
Joan
Good social history of the color blue, focusing on religious, cultural, legal, and symbolic iconography. Worthwhile, but lacked comparable attention paid to technology and economic development. Very pretty pictures throughout.
Lindsay
It is interesting how the perception of a color can change through time.
Susan Dermond
fascinating; did you know Europeans never wore blue until the Middle Ages or later? not for everyone; it's a specialized subject. I think you have to like history and/or art. Lavishly illustrated.
Emmanuelle
Je n'ai lu ce livre que parce que je l'avais gagné...et pourtant je l'ai fini en quelques heures. Une façon captivante de parler d'histoire, mais aussi de sociologie, d'art et de mode.
Morna
Nice book - very interesting and beautifully done. If you like history (yes) and if you love blue (yes), then this book should be on your shelves.
Gina
Fascinating analysis of the changing symbolic and social role of the color blue over time. Very informative.
Ann
Fabulous illustrations and an interesting thesis. Learned a lot about color and culture.
Yannis
Το διάβαζα στη Σαντορίνη. Λέγεται "σωστό αξεσοράιζινγκ".
James
James marked it as to-read
Nov 27, 2014
Randa Kareem
Randa Kareem marked it as to-read
Nov 26, 2014
June Huggins
June Huggins marked it as to-read
Nov 26, 2014
Ivy Manning
Ivy Manning marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2014
SEP
SEP marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2014
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Pastoureau was born in Paris on 17 June 1947. He studied at the École Nationale des Chartes, a college for prospective archivists and librarians. After writing his 1972 thesis about heraldic bestiaries in the Middle Ages, he worked in the coins, medals and antiquities department of the French National Library until 1982.
Since 1983 he has held the Chair of History of Western Symbolism (Chaire d'his
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