Portrait of Suzanne Valadon by Toulouse-Lautrec, 1885
Red as Self Portrait
While the color red suggests a certain quality of strength
and clarity, when an artist who for 50 years painted herself red
it might imply a strong clarion sense of something left out.
Red pigments have wave lengths that are long and chromatic
primary and direct and when mixed with other primary colors
produces white. There is no question regarding the nature of red.
But more importantly the question is why an artist clearly
accomplished and talented goes unknown for 250 years.
The obvious reason is the artist is a woman and women
have never been as valued as men. That is as simple and direct
a truth as what happens when red wave lengths are mixed
with others to give the full spectrum of radiant light.
All her life this artist tried to say to the world, “here I am
and this is my truth” and the world did not listen and as long as
that is the truth, the world will be one-sided, lopsided, out of kilter.
The spectrum of truth will never be the brilliant luminosity of white
but the narrowness of a single color and limited as monochrome.