Blue: Color and Concept

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 to Saturday, April 19, 2014

Libraries conventionally organize and classify collections according to author, title, and subjects as diverse as children’s literature, amateur photography, Harlem Renaissance poetry, and experimental film.  This exhibition reveals what can occur if alternative methods for navigating an archive are employed. “Blue: Color and Concept” tracks a single idea across the Beinecke’s holdings and over numerous fields in order to reveal a rich network of associations. The result is a unique cultural history of the color blue in nineteenth- and twentieth-century arts and letters. The exhibition brings together literary and historical artifacts—such as the poet Langston Hughes’s blue enamel-decorated cigarette case and a hand-colored nineteenth-century family photograph, writer Edith Wharton’s 1915 Paris driver’s permit and an American driver’s guidebook from the same era—alongside great works in fields as varied as entomology, poetry, human psychology, and American popular music. “Blue” demonstrates ways alternative approaches to thinking about archival research can expose dense systems of meaningful connection and material association overlooked by more traditional modes of inquiry. Apparent and subtle reflections and echoes throughout the exhibition reveal new categories of significance and new ways of seeing and understanding well-known texts and archival objects. “Blue: Color and Concept” explores aesthetic ideas and quotidian practices, moods and music, texts and textures, displaying an unexpected view of the Beinecke’s collections. Blue: Color and Concept Exhibition Checklist.

This playlist provides recordings that relate to the people and themes presented in “Blue: Color and Concept.”

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