If The Colour Journal is simplistic in its name, its contents promise more complexity. “The Colour Journal is not simply another publication about the meaning of colour. Neither blue, nor any of the other colours, have been approached in a literal way,” Benjamin Grillon, The Colour Journal’s editor-in-chief and creative director, assures readers.
Instead, each colour – the inaugural Blue Issue will be followed by editions on red, yellow, green, white, and black – is a point of departure for examining the hidden depths of colours, rather than cursory, surface-level observations.
For the Blue Issue, Grillon shifts the emphasis from Henri Matisse and Yves Klein to the people and places that were instrumental in shaping their masterpieces, in a bid to “excavate familiar moments in art history and discover what lies beneath”.
The first issue does involve artworks by well-documented figures, from David Hockney to Ed Ruscha, Cecil Beaton to Dorothea Lange. Yet, true to his promise, Grillon also looks beyond storied artists to reveal less widely known tales associated with the colour blue.
Across 15 insightful texts, written by contributors such as the ICP’s David Campany and former Vogue picture editor Robin Muir, the publication takes us from the origins of the term ‘blue collar workers’ to the mountain villagers still practising indigo dyeing today.
The reproduced artworks are interspersed with original images by photographers including Robbie Lawrence and Charles Fréger, known for his documentation of customs and traditional dress. Taken together, the publication creates a “dialogue between forgotten archives and contemporary photography”.
Grillon, who also recently founded his own documentary photography imprint called Alep, has previously developed brand magazines for luxury clients including Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Gucci. There’s a quiet sense of luxury to this publication, too, thanks to refined editorial design and the addition of a tasteful navy slipcase.
“Is it a magazine, is it a book?” Grillon asks. He’s not sure, but what’s certain is that, at well over 400 pages long, there are revelations inside The Colour Journal that are sure to appeal to artists, designers, and history buffs alike. From cyanotypes to denim to the very notion of ‘feeling blue’, once you start looking, you can see its presence everywhere.
The Colour Journal: The Blue Issue will be available in the UK via Antenne Books; antennebooks.com