A Zeitgeist of Colour

Katsushika Hokusai, In the Totomi Mountains (c. 1830), from the Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji series (c. 1830), colour woodblock, 26.3 x 38.6 cm (image and sheet), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1909

Golem on Excursion at the NGV: Spectrum

Don’t be put off by the trend of painting houses grey, friend. The suburban atmosphere is already bleak and grey, and we don’t need houses shoving it in our faces as we stroll down the street. We at Golem Quarterly Review strongly dislike the mass use of the colour grey in our surrounding environment. Let us clear it up, grey, used delicately and in small amounts, is not bad to look at, if it’s used precariously. Alas, once it is used in mass, we declare war. Joining us on that front is the National Gallery of Victoria, whom we applaud for making this move.

The NGV has taken it upon themselves to host a smorgasbord exhibition of colour this December. Be sure to wipe that drool from your mouth. Spectrum will give you a history of colour. Featured in the exhibition is a pigment of Indian Yellow, which is presumably made from cow’s urine. To get this intense yellow shade, the cow’s minimal diet consisted of mango leaves and water. (For the safety of cows, we recommend you use Hansa yellow.) Like tea, this pigment was a commodity traded between India and Britain. Be sure to catch sight of the prized Prince Amar Singh II with sardars.

The NGV looks to its own collection and pulls out gems from the proverbial vault and will rely on the Great Hall, with its shining coloured glass, to act as the backdrop for this exhibition. The artworks exhibited range through centuries, from the rich red in Flemish Virgin and Child to the 1970s bright-orange Sandals by Paco Rabanne. It’s not something you’d want to miss, especially if you’re from the dull and dreary suburbia.

Free entry
NGV International
Level 2, Decorative Arts Passage
Open 10am–5pm daily
(Until 29 Aug 2021)

A selection from the body of work appears below.

Flanders, The Virgin and Child (mid 15th century-late 15th century), oil on wood panel,
26.3 x 19.4 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1923

Josef Hoffmann (designer), Wiener Werkstatte, Vienna (retailer), Meyr’s Neffe, Adolfov (manufacturer)
Vase, from the Gallia collection (c. 1915) glass (uranium) 12.2 x 18.1 x 18.2 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Samuel E. Wills Bequest, 1976, D176-1976 © Estate of Josef Hoffmann

François Boucher, Madame de Pompadour 1754, pastel over sanguine and light grey-blue washes
36.5 x 28.1 cm (sheet), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Everard Studley Miller Bequest (1965), 1482-5

Peter Tully, Early flight attendants vest 1990, retrospectra graphic plastic, lamé, metallic thread, cotton
48.5 cm (centre back) 48.0 cm (waist, flat), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1991, CT1-1991, © Courtesy of the copyright owner, Merlene Gibson (sister)

Worcester Porcelain, Worcester (manufacturer), Plate (c. 1770), porcelain (soft-paste)
4.0 x 16.3 cm diameter, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1938