The Color Red

Here we are not even to Mid-October. Yet  Denver and Minneapolis already have snow on the ground. That’s right now. But a few years back (maybe 2006) when Danny DeVito’s Christmas movie, Deck The Halls had just opened, I started thinking about the color red as a topic of interest, just as I am sure that many of you will soon be thinking about a different topic of interest which is seasonal, just like red, but one that you’ll approach with check-book sensibilty rather than – hey let’s wow the neighbors. That topic would be whether or not to splurge on  your own Christmas lights on your homes this year.

Yes, Santa Claus will soon be  on his way. Let’s have a look at him. He’s got his girth, his white beard, and of course his trademark red suit.

Okay cue holiday music; time for a formal announcement. And ready … The color red is our topic for this column. We’ve been seeing it for years and it is so common that sometimes you don’t even think about. But it’s there, and much of time we take it for granted.

 Take this magazine cover. This issue of Vogue was published in August, 1956. The photograph was shot by Norman Parkinson more than 50 years ago. He called it Red Rose, and today you can still buy it. Now I’d call that an impact.

Or red might be just a small fraction of the picture or painting but your eyes still are attracted to it. In the (above) painting by Liu Chang Wen called Wild Mountain, your eyes will notice the girl’s bedding that she carries. Jin Yu painted Future Hopes (below) with the red lanterns are the most noticeable feature.


About lanterns – In fact, a famous film was entitled Raise The Red Lantern. Directed by Zhang Yimou, and starring Gong Li, it is the story of a wealthy land owner who had four wives. The particular wife who would be visited by the master on a specific night, would have her red lantern lit. Of course, jealousy soon took over the lives of each of the women.

Getting back to flowers, how about this painting by Salvador Dali. He called it The Rose, and he painted it in 1958. How does it compare to the real article?

Red seems to permeate everything – in the food groups we have strawberries….

tomatoes, apples, jalapeno peppers, and red meats.

The color red governs our movements. We have stop signs, and we have red lights.

And we ride in red vehicles.

We wear red, as the main color, or as an accessory, or as the only color.

Check out the iconic Marilyn Monroe in a red sweater,,a red evening gown design, and Britney Spears in red. In China, a bride may dress in red as it is the color of good luck, or women will wear it to attract men. Check out these paintings by Wang Yi Hua (1,2,3 below), Liu Yuan Shou (4), and Wang Yi Dong (5&6).

Sometimes red is the color of choice of light-hearted artists like Keith Haring and Robert Indiana….

or modern artists like Piet Mondrian, Claire O’Hea, Keith Siddle, and Man Ray…(from the top down in the column below)

or the European masters like Matisse, Munch, Modigliani, and Monet (clockwise from top left).

Red is used to promote tourism as in Hong Kong by Tony Soulie, or we treasure the beautiful fish called koi, a creation in nature. We admire the sunsets, like the image by Frank Crezus.

Our movies are filled with “Red” or a color in the family in the titles. Just to jog your memory – check these out. I’ll bet you’ve seen at least one of these: The Hunt for Red October, Red Dawn, Blood Work, and The Crimson Tide.

Many of our flags, contain the color red –

We cheer for our teams – collegiate or professional – The Boston Red Sox, The Cincinnati Reds, the Stanford Cardinals, or the Detroit Redwings.

We roll out the red carpet, we see red when we are angry, when we blush – our faces get red, when our companies lose money we consider them to be in the red. What kind of wine do you like – how about a red?


We picture our hearts in red. And when we bleed, even if we are considered to be true-blue as a friend, or a blue-blood as in royalty, or a gold-digger, or green with envy – we still bleed in red.

Without red in our lives we wouldn’t really be alive, would we? I’m sure I’ve left out a good many popular and obvious ‘red’ objects and references – if so, I’m going to say it was unintentional. Or plead the 5th. Or lie. What ever it is that one does when he’s been caught red-handed.