Drawing by Dorian Vallejo

In last week’s edition of Fine Art Today (the weekly e-newsletter of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine), editor Jeffrey Carlson reports on a new exhibit of works on paper at Portraits, Inc. in New York City entitled “Blue Drawings: Figure, Form & The New Narrative”.  This is an impressive group show, and many of the works are, indeed, blue. Why are they blue? Well….

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

Portraits, Inc. curator and artist Michael Gormley, and featured artist Patricia Watwood suggest that artists today are interested in both innovation and history, in dreams and melancholy, and that the color blue represents those concepts well. Certainly we live in difficult, war-torn, economically depressed times. We are also struggling to assimilate centuries-long trajectories of Progress and Modernism on the one hand, with Proficiency and Recognition on the other, so innovation and history are both top of mind – we’re searching for the sweet spot between them that utilizes institutional knowledge and technique while inspiring invention.

In terms of business, though, what makes blue appealing now? )? Are the artists involved following their muse(s) or are consumer tastes shifting toward cooler colors (and a corresponding interest in artwork that coordinates with décor)? Did one artist’s monetary or critical success with blue-hued works cause others to shift their palettes? Or did several artists simultaneously and independently decide to use blue ink, pencil, or crayon? )? Is it market-driven, or has the market yet to speak on the subject?

What’s in a Trend?

Trends originate from any or all of the above, that’s why they are so hard to predict. More interesting is the question of when something officially becomes a trend (which blue works on paper clearly seems to be, since shows are being constructed around the theme). Most interesting to contemplate is how and when a fashion or style crosses over into something more important that lasts and impacts the larger trajectory. One thing that is clear: 21st century communications is speeding up the process dramatically, which, strangely enough, may retard the development of long-term, important changes or “movements”. Of course, we never really know what will last as we’re experiencing it. That is only apparent much later, when innovation has become history.

“Blue Drawings: Figure, Form & The New Narrative” opens June 4 and hangs through July 18 at Portraits Inc, Gallery, 6 E 92nd St #1, New York, NY (212) 258-2233

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Elizabeth Hulings
Elizabeth Hulings is the Executive Director of the Clark Hulings Foundation, and a principal of the business-strategy consulting firm Counterpoise, where she has worked with startups, nonprofits large and small, multi-national corporations, and sole proprietors--including artists of all stripes. Before launching Counterpoise in 2001, Elizabeth lived through five Fortune-500 mergers at the predecessors of Citigroup, Cendant, and Verizon Communications. She also honed her skills at several nonprofit organizations including the International Development Exchange, The Management Center/Opportunity Knocks, and Human Rights Watch.

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