Blue sky © Pakhnyushchy (shutterstock)
Colors send messages. Blue is probably the most popular color – especially in summertime. It symbolizes distance and infinity. But it can also radiate cold. A little color theory about the hot days.
Cloudless sky, clear water. A trip in the blue: Who has now free days, longs for blue. The color stands for width and freshness, horizon and infinity. The summer sky and blue sparkling floods arouse heavenly feelings.
But there are other blue wonders: the medieval windows of Chartres Cathedral, for example, or the windows of St. Stephen's Church in Mainz, created by Marc Chagall. The fact that blue as one of the four primary colors refers to the divine, the infinite, the spiritual, can also be seen in medieval book illumination. So the Virgin Mary often appears in paintings in brightly shining blue.
Blue as a trademark
Yves Klein has made the blue his trademark. After initially experimenting with different colors, he soon concentrated on large-scale monochrome paintings in deep ultramarine. In 1955, in his search for the perfect blue, he invented a new binder that did not limit the luminosity of the blue pigments. The blue, he finds, "is the invisible becoming visible". One is literally sucked into his images.
"Blue – term for any color sensation conveyed by the sense of sight, caused by light of a wavelength between 440 and 485 nanometers or by additive color mixing of green and violet or subtractive mixing of blue-green and purple" – according to the dictionary. Marketing experts express themselves there more effusively.
"Restlessly pushing forward"
"Blue is taste" claimed a Bavarian dairy in a nationwide advertising campaign. The publicity experts wanted to "present dynamism, purity and progressiveness". This assessment is confirmed by color psychology: people who prefer blue are "restlessly pushing forward" and love clarity, as the psychologist Heinrich Frieling, who is also known as the "color pope," has stated.
Blue was a common color even in the Middle Ages because it is relatively easy and cheap to produce. The most important raw materials were indigo, which comes from India, or the somewhat less intensively dyeing native woad. Its leaves were fermented in tubs with human urine and alcohol. At the same time, the dyers themselves drank alcohol diligently. They were "blue" and made "blue".
Widespread – blue jeans
Blue is a common color: When the German emigrant Levi Strauss, together with Jacob Davis, applied for a patent for his gold-digger pants with metal rivets in the USA in 1873, jeans were born. They were robust, durable – and blue. One fabric and one color for all, at least since the 1960s.
"Blue blood," on the other hand, stands for the supposed exclusivity of the nobility. Presumably the term is explained by the fact that nobles could afford to rest in the shade instead of working in the fields. On her pale skin, the veins appeared bluish.
The human eye can distinguish about one million different colors. Around 50.000 to 100.000 shades may be considered blue, estimates the Color Standards Committee in Berlin. From sky blue to Prussian blue, from ultramarine blue to Parisian blue, the color palette knows hardly any limits.
A "difficult" color
This is precisely why choosing the right shade of blue is a balancing act: "Blue is the most problematic color there is," warns advertising manager Wolfgang Raczek. "The darker, the gloomier, and the brighter, the frostier it seems."Harald Ackerschott, a business psychologist in Bonn, can also tell you a thing or two about this. "Pure blue is a cold, technical color, found mainly in large manufacturing plants or nuclear power stations."
Raczek and Ackerschott could also have quoted Goethe: In his Theory of Colors, the master described the peculiar closeness of blue to the extremes. It shines almost white in the daytime sky, shimmers almost black at night, and as a haze it obscures what is real. Blue is therefore also the color of the demonic. Who undertakes a journey "into the blue", drives into the unpredictable. And those who "speak into the blue" speak into the unknown.