You’ve seen Lladró’s Bold Blue collection, inspired by the life and work of artist Yves Klein, now Lladró pushes the boundaries in their exploration of monochrome art with their newest release the Bold Black Collection. The collection explores the beauty and depth that can be found in the absence of colour and definition, taking inspiration from the works by artists such as Pierre Soulages, Ad Reinhardt and sculptor Anish Kapoor.
Lladró's Bold Black Macaw Sculpture (ltd edn) (left), Gorilla Table Lamp (ltd edn) (middle), & Leading the Way Elephant Sculpture (ltd edn) (right).
Black was one of the first “colours” ever used by humans to decorate, created from the charred blackened wood embers, you could argue that it is one of the most important and significant “colours out there not just in terms of art but also in cultural and psychological terms. Like many other colours, its meaning differs from culture to culture depending on the context it’s used in, for example, in one sense it can represent power and importance but on the other hand, it can represent space, the void and the unknown. Many people have these associations with black because of the way it absorbs and swallows all light and colour. Black is unique in the way that is it made up of all colours and is absent of colour as we perceive it, unlike white which reflects and is completely colourless. This difference is where the true unique traits of black can be found, in its endless sense of possibility and infinity, its meaning has been the subject of philosophy and critical discussion for millennia.
‘Abstract Painting No. 5’ Ad Reinhardt, 1962. © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020 (right).
The 1950s and 60s saw an explosion in monochrome abstract art, with artists pushing the boundaries of what could be constituted as art and reinventing how we interpret colours. Ad Reinhardt was notable for using black to covey the limits of painting, he wrote “A free, unmanipulated, unmanipulatable, useless, unmarketable, irreducible, unphotographable, unreproducible, inexplicable icon.” In reference to the series of paintings that he dubbed “ultimate paintings.”, they featured canvases covered in deep black which all but obstructed the imagery barely visible underneath. However, rather than proclaiming that painting had reached its end as an art form, Reinhardt was instead asserting that painting was still viable as an art form that can transcend the limiting and contradictory attitudes that were and are held by the art community and its critics. Thus rejecting the increasingly commercial influences of the art market.
On the flip side, around the same time artist such as Pierre Soulages, uses stark black tones to remove visual clutter from his work in order to capture the interaction between light and texture. His works use heavy brushstrokes to create texture, allowing light to wash over them and reveal shadows created by the brushstrokes. For Soulages, the emptiness of black is the perfect vehicle to remove all other distractions, leaving the interplay of light and shadow for viewers to see and interpret whilst imbuing his works with their own meaning. He foregoes a strict planning process, instead favouring to feel where the work and material are taking him, creating pieces that evolve as he works. Soulages described the process by saying “I saw that it was no longer black that gave meaning to the painting but the reflection of light on dark surfaces.” he continued, ‘Where it was layered the light danced, and where it was flat it lay still. A new space had come into being.’, this newfound space he would soon come to call Outre-Noir and would define much of his work for decades to come.
Black is colourless, genderless and more than anything, it is limitless. Like the way it absorbs light, in the same way, it also absorbs emotion and takes on whatever the viewer projects onto it. It is in this absence of anything, that the fascination lies and the realisation that anything is possible.
LLADRÓ’S BOLD BLACK COLLECTION
Lladró’s Bold Black Gorilla Sculptural Lamp (ltd edn), with gold lined lamp shade that further illuminates the and reveals that sculptural qualities of the figurine.
The Bold Black collection features three of Lladró’s most evocative and loved pieces, Leading the Way, the Gorilla and the Macaw, each made in the deepest matt black and finished with touches of gold lustre artfully placed to accentuate the deepness of the black and create a focal point to each piece. The black colour allows the viewer to focus on the texture and lines and heightens each piece and the sense of gravitas and emotive presence they all possess.
Lladró’s Bold Black Leading the Way Sculpture (ltd edn), notice how the black and gold brings focus to the interaction and deep bond between a mother and calf.
With a limited edition number of only 1000 pieces for each piece, this collection is yet another way for Lladró to test the limits of sculpture that is sure to become a Lladró icon. This collection is a new look at the depths of such an underrated colour and is an excellent study of how the absence of colour can be all the more revealing. Allowing the endlessness of black to be a conduit for the viewers’ interpretation and vision.