I was recently contacted for my opinions about color for art galleries and art collections. This has been a running topic in Apartment Therapy's Color Therapy, and I thought I’d continue the dialogue here and toss around some ideas.
The all-white room is a 20th century concept. I think it was the Bauhaus that threw the goddess Color out of the temple, but even Corbusier had his own vivid color palette, and we’re talking of course about people with resources and money. Go to the great houses of Europe, the beaches of Mexico, the streets of Bombay and what you see is color, color, color.
Perhaps it’s the artist rather than the art collector who requires the purity of all-white rooms for the untainted experience of viewing, but even then, I don’t buy it. The British favored red as the ideal color for a portrait gallery, an idea that goes back to Pompeii. The aristocracy has always used color — rare and expensive were pigments &mdash to display their wealth. And when I troll the museums here in New York, all-white rooms may be associated with Modernity (MoMA) more than anything else.
I close with a sampling of photos snapped over the years. When it comes to art collections, I personally am more likely to paint my walls black than white.
- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter