Notes On Tiepolo Pink

Notes On Tiepolo Pink

Mark Chamberlain
Mar 30, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice to have a whole color named after you — Titian Red, Dior Grey, Madame de Pompadour Rose? I picked up a review of the new book Tiepolo Pink by Robarto Calasso, which discusses the artist, his pink, his scherzi, and his many paintings and frescos that defined Italian Rococo in his city of Venice. This got me thinking, and I put pen to paper.

This isn't a book review here also per se, put rather a question of specificities. Calasso calls Tiepolo "The last breath of happiness in Europe," but then goes on to examine the darker tenor within his work. I, for one, had no idea that much of his work was in fresco, and indeed many of his frescos are so delicate and diaphanous that I thought they were watercolors. Furthermore, Calasso discusses this turning point in the age of enlightenment, the last point in history when Myth dominated Science, though sometimes I wonder.

Tiepolo's pink is subtle and luminous compared to that of his French contemporaries like Boucher, whose pink is hard and glassy. Look how Tiepolo Pink pervades the entire picture plane, including skin, sky and stone. It is possible to see this same pink lending an interior a Rococo flair. One suspects it is a reflection of Venetian light, itself a reflection bouncing off canals onto palazzo ceilings.

But what does this have to do with interiors? For starters, I find pink notoriously difficult to use, and goes from zero to Miami Beach in 2.0. Farrow&Ball only have three pinks in its whole palette — but Ralph Lauren has those sorbet pinks that remind me of the French Riviera. The point is, if one person has spent so much time with one color as to claim it as there own, we might deduce that they know what they are doing and take our cues from them. Think pink that is warm and living, one of those quiet colors blended out of a brown as in Benjamin Moore's Classic Collection.

But the remaining question begs: Who will name a color after me? Chamberlain Brown? Chamberlain Underwater Blue? Chamberlain Grisaille??

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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