graph reveals orange is the dominant colour of artworks through history

The colour of art: Stunning graph reveals orange is the dominant colour of artworks through history

  • Graph show dominant colours of 94,526 artworks from 1800 to 2000
  • Orange and yellow have always been the most popular colour
  • In recent years blue has begun to catch up – and nobody is sure why
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They are a stunning visualisation of the art – and how it is orange.

A programmer has created these stunning graphs to reveal the dominant colour of artworks through history

They show Orange has always been the most popular colour – although in recent years blue has begun to catch up.

The software extracts the relevant colour information from images or artworks found online.

The software extracts the relevant colour information from images or artworks found online.

THE RISE OF BLUE

The plot above is based on 94,526 images for the years 1800-2000.

The graph shows a clear trend toward more blue paintings toward the end of the 20th Century, with all colours increasing except for orange.

‘I made a visualization of the change in colors of paintings over time,’ said Martin Bellander, a PhD student in psychology at the Karolinska Institute who created the graph.

To do this, he wrote software first to scrape the images of the paintings from sites where they were available for free download – BBC, Google Art Project, Wikiart, Wikimedia commons, and various museums.

Then, the software extract the relevant colour information from them, and plots it in a nice way.

He found the paintings change over time – from orange to blue.

‘The changes in color might be a results of a combination of factor,’ he wrote.

‘One of these could of course be trends in the use of colour.

‘If we assume a smooth linear deterioration of certain colours in oil paintings, it would be possible to subtract that change and study the short term fluctuation in colour use.

‘For example the marked increase of blue at the time of the First World War, might actually reflect a true trend in colour use.’

Two versions of Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting on show at the National Gallery in in London, England: Yellow and orange are the most popular colours in artworks from 1800, it has been found.

Two versions of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting on show at the National Gallery in in London, England: Yellow and orange are the most popular colours in artworks from 1800, it has been found.

Bellander used freely available images for the project.

‘There are a bunch of different sites where you can access (photos of) paintings,  for instance the BBC, Google Art Project, Wikiart, Wikimedia commons, and various museums.

.’One of my favorites is the BBC’s site where you can browse through over 200K of well organized paintings – an amazing resource.

‘For many of these there is also information on the year they were painted, the artist, etc.’

He believes that some experts who have claimed perhaps the change is due top the price of paint are wrong.

‘I haven’t found any data on the prices of blue, so that explanation is hard to elaborate on.

‘However, it is not only blue that increases but all colors except orange, which might speak against the pigment prices explanation. ‘

The same graph, but with only oil paintings

The same graph, but with only oil paintings

"UnTrou sur l'Orange" by Jesus Rafael Soto: Researcher have found orange is by far the most common colour in art.

‘UnTrou sur l’Orange’ by Jesus Rafael Soto: Researcher have found orange is by far the most common colour in art.

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