Blood, rust, lava, wine—the flush of passion and the glow of approaching night—no color arrests our attention more than the color red. Today it is the flag of danger and seduction, of spirit and revolution, but throughout nearly all of human history it has held a special place in our aesthetics. In this book, Spike Bucklow brings us into the heart of this fiery hue to better understand the unique powers it has had over us.
Bucklow takes us from a thirty-four-thousand-year-old shaman burial dress to the iPhone screen, exploring the myriad of purposes we have put red to as well as the materials from which we have looked to harvest it. And we have looked for it everywhere, from insects to tree resin to tar to excitable gasses. Bucklow also details how our pursuit of the color drove medieval alchemy and modern chemistry alike, and he shows us red’s many symbolic uses, its association with earth, blood, and fire, its coloring of caves and the throne rooms of goddesses, as well as national flags, fire trucks, power grids, and stoplights.
The result is a material and cultural history that makes one see this color afresh, beating with vibrancy, a crucial part of the human visual world.