Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Black: The History of a Color” as Want to Read:
Black: The History of a Color
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Black: The History of a Color

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  121 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Black - favorite color of priests and penitents, artists and ascetics, fashion designers and fascists - has always stood for powerfully opposed ideas: authority and humility, sin and holiness, rebellion and conformity, wealth and poverty, good and bad. In this beautiful and richly illustrated book, the acclaimed author of Blue now tells the fascinating social history of th ...more
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published October 27th 2008 by Princeton University Press (first published October 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Black, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Black

Stiff by Mary RoachThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonSalt by Mark KurlanskyEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussBonk by Mary Roach
You Read a Book about What?
220th out of 1,153 books — 537 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonSalt by Mark KurlanskyStiff by Mary RoachThe Professor and the Madman by Simon WinchesterThe Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Microhistory: Social Histories of Just One Thing
480th out of 1,132 books — 1,737 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 810)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Rick
Feb 22, 2010 Rick rated it it was amazing
Michel Pastoureau’s BLACK: THE HISTORY OF A COLOR is a fascinating look at attitudes toward black from prehistory to the present. Pastoureau considers the changing significance of black in, among other things, myth, religion, superstition, art, and fashion.

During the development of Christianity, for example, black was often associated with death and with Satan, but at different periods, the meaning fluctuated radically.

Monastic garb was originally black, gray, brown or white, but debates raged f
...more
Laura
Jul 27, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Pastoureau discusses the color black in artistic and other contexts, especially its changing popularity and symbolism. There is a lot of interesting information about the cultural and scientific context of color from prehistory to the present.

Occasionally ideas and even specific phrases are repeated, and the translation of some names and phrases is clumsy. For example, Manet's painting of boats in the French city of Boulogne is identified as Bologna; Saint Benedict is given both his French name
...more
Jade
Apr 03, 2015 Jade rated it really liked it
This book is great, I loved it. It's very informative, never boring, and touches on a large variety of areas, including heraldry, religion, fashion, optics, painting, dyeing, race relations, bereavement and so on. It's well-researched, full of historical anecdotes, and very entertaining. I learned a lot, often about subjects I didn't know anything about, and yet I never felt out of my depth. Pastoureau's narrative voice is very agreeable.

For anyone looking to read his books on colour, I'd recomm
...more
Mehmet Sumer
Jun 28, 2016 Mehmet Sumer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O kadar güzel bir kitap ki o kadar olur.

Siyah rengin avrupa kültüründeki yerini, simgesel ve toplumsal geçmişini anlatan kitapta, hazine değerinde derli toplu bilgiler var. Mesela iskandinav kültüründe önemli bir yeri olan karga ile bilgiler bulmak mümkün, kuzeyliler için kargaların tarihsel önemini anlamak, Hıristiyan din adamlarının kargalara karşı giriştiği mücadeleyi okumak mümkün.

Siyah rengin tek tanrılı dinler öncesinde toprak sembolü olmasından dolayı doğurganlığı, yenilenmeyi hatırlatmas
...more
Richard
Oct 23, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
this book is not quite up to the standards of "Blue", but still can't wait to read the next in the series, "Green." these books are easy to read and full fascinating information about the perception of color through European history.
Nicole
Jan 23, 2009 Nicole added it
"Black: The History of a Color looks remarkably like a coffee table book--large format hardcover; gorgeous color reproductions of paintings, sculptures, engravings; nice layouts--but don't be fooled. The text is not just for flipping through. Michel Pastoureau, who previously wrote Blue: The History of a Color, explains at the beginning that he is not intending to continue a franchise through all the major colors, partly because the history of each color is too interconnected with all the others ...more
Kerfe
Oct 30, 2010 Kerfe rated it liked it
Pastoureau traces the cultural history of the color black in the Western world, with examples from politics, society and the arts. Black has been evil, fashionable, romantic, rebellious, royal, required, exotic, fertile, pagan, shunned, modern. I had not realized the impact that the chromophobic Protestant Church had on erasing color from people's lives for several centuries. Luckily,the 20th century saw most people reject the severe moral view that found "bright and patterned colors are unworth ...more
Jeff
Jan 05, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
Michel Pastoureau's book "Blue: The History of a Color" was an amazing read, and i bought the sequel "Black" at the same time. Sorry to say that i only just now finished reading it, and it is every bit as interesting as its predecessor. My only tiny quibble is that the Blue volume talks about the difficulties that dyers had in the Middle Ages achieving a true black, because of restrictions that said you couldn't dye red and blue at the same location; this means that some of the information is th ...more
Lisa Orki
Jan 08, 2014 Lisa Orki rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: artists, art therapist
Recommended to Lisa by: Phinou Dupasquier
Shelves: art, french, pro, art-therapy
Noir ... C'est l'histoire du Noir à travers l'histoire .... Intéressant, mais pas non plus fascinant. Peut-être parce que finalement je connaissais déjà bien l'histoire de cette couleur, non-couleur. Quoi qu'il en soit, cet ouvrage est avant tout une recherche très pointue et approfondie de son auteur. Donc un livre dont je peux m'inspirer pour les recherches que je dois moi-même effectuer.
Darla
Jun 28, 2016 Darla rated it really liked it
Worthwhile as an historical reference. Lush color plates of paintings illustrating his references.
Richard Anderson
Apr 28, 2015 Richard Anderson rated it really liked it
Beautiful, with many insights, especially pertaining to the early history of the color.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
Gorgeously illustrated, this is a social history of the color black in Western Art and society--a marker or penitence and mourning when the dyes were cheap and ugly, then of Satan as represented by black boars and Red-Black-White motifs in fairy tales, luxuriated with sable fur, made respectable as Protestant bourgeois-wear by durable fabric, co-opted by Romantics and Anarchists, glamorized into the little black dress and made generic by Model T Fords.
Sesana
Apr 04, 2011 Sesana rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction, art
A few years back, I read Blue: The History of a Color, by the same author. This is the sort of history that's right up my alley, microscopic almost to the point of absurdity. It's very interesting, and beautifully illustrated. The meaning of the color black hasn't changed that terribly much, but it's still interesting to see all of the different meanings, in art and fashion and everything else, gone through all in one place.
Trena
I got only a few pages into this so I won't rate it. First, and superficially, I hated the font. It was a cheap-looking sans serif 1970s font that didn't go with the glossy pages and and coffee table format. Second, it just didn't interest me--it is a *very* dense history. If you are a true art historian, I think you will eat this up.
Ayne Ray
Dec 13, 2010 Ayne Ray rated it really liked it
This strikingly designed, richly illustrated book consisting of nearly 100 historical and artistic plates traces the history of the color black, providing a sociological history charting its changing symbolism and shades of meaning. Fascinating reading.
Jackie
Mar 11, 2016 Jackie rated it it was amazing
More of a 4.5, but given how much I enjoyed it, learned, and incessantly felt the need to talk about it with my friends, erring on the side of more stars is the way to go.
Донка
Aug 05, 2016 Донка rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, rich in information and beautifully illustrated. Looking forward to reading more from the author.
Giuseppe D'Antonio
Nov 14, 2010 Giuseppe D'Antonio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my, favorite
Elegante.
Sean
Sean marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2016
Melike
Melike marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2016
Mark Davess
Mark Davess marked it as to-read
Aug 16, 2016
John
John marked it as to-read
Aug 16, 2016
Natalia
Natalia marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2016
Mari
Mari marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2016
Selin
Selin is currently reading it
Aug 15, 2016
Jessica
Jessica marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
Alexandra
Alexandra marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
Jodie
Jodie marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
...
... marked it as to-read
Aug 07, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 26 27 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction
  • The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy
  • Intellectuals in the Middle Ages
  • Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color
  • Sargent's Daughters: The Biography of a Painting
  • A Perfect Red
  • The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color
  • A Face to the World: On Self Portraits
  • The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered
  • Chromophobia
  • The Primary Colors: Three Essays
  • Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art
  • In Ruins: A Journey Through History, Art, and Literature
  • Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World
  • The Greeks & Greek Love: A Bold New Exploration of the Ancient World
  • The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art
  • A History of Illuminated Manuscripts
  • Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
184463
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
...more
More about Michel Pastoureau...

Share This Book