Lecture: History of Cochineal Red

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in News

“Cochineal Red: the Art History of a Color”, Sunday, May 19 @ DAM

with Dr. Elena Phipps, President, Textile Society of America

Cochineal, a small insect that lives on cactus, was the primary red dye used in the ancient Americas to create brilliant crimson red. With the coming of the Spanish in the early 16th century and the age of global trade, it became the most sought-after source of red color around the world.

From antiquity to the present day, color has been embedded with cultural meaning. Red, associated with blood, fire, fertility, and life force, was an extremely difficult color to achieve and always highly prized. We will learn of the origin of the insect red colorant cochineal, its early use in pre-Columbian ritual textiles from Mexico and Peru, and the spread of the American dyestuff through cultural interchange following the Spanish discovery and conquest of the New World in the sixteenth century. Drawing on examples from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, from pre-Columbian textiles, French tapestries and Chinese hangings, as well as in paintings by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, the lecture documents the use of this red-colored treasure throughout the world.

Sponsored by the Alianza de las Artes Americanas

Date and Time: Sunday, May 19, 2013, 2:30PM

Location: Sharp Auditorium, Hamilton Building, Denver Art Museum

Address: Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, Denver, Colorado, USA (13th Ave.between Broadway & Bannock)

Cost: free to Alianza members, $5 DAM members, $10 others, $3 students with current ID