by Artist & Writer


David Batchelor (1955) is a Scottish artist, writer, and a Senior Tutor in Critical Theory in the Department of Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in London. He has exhibited widely in the UK, continental Europe, the United States and Latin America; written several books, Minimalism (1997), Chromophobia (2000) and The Luminous and the Grey (2014), is the editor of Colour (2008) and contributed to a number of journals including Artscribe, Frieze (magazine), and Artforum. David was a member of Tate Britain Council from 2002-5, an advisory body on development and programming at Tate Britain. Two of his works are held in the collection of Tate.


The notion that colour is bound up with the fate of Western culture sounds odd, and not very likely. But this is what I want to argue: that colour has been the object of extreme prejudice in Western culture. For the most part, this prejudice has remained unchecked and passed unnoticed. And yet it is a prejudice that is so all-embracing and generalized that, at one time or another, it has enrolled just about every other prejudice in its service. If its object were a furry animal, it would be protected by international law. But its object is, it is said, almost nothing, even though it is at the same time a part of almost everything and exists almost everywhere. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that, in the West, since Antiquity, colour has been systematically marginalized, reviled, diminished and degraded. Generations of philosophers, artists, art historians and cultural theorists of one stripe or another have kept this prejudice alive, warm, fed and groomed. As with all prejudices, its manifest form, its loathing, masks a fear: a fear of contamination and corruption by something that is unknown or appears unknowable. This loathing of colour, this fear of corruption through colour, needs a name: chromophobia.

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Q&A with Martin Margiela

What is colour:
An intensity, a temperature, a clash, harmony.

How do you use it:
When it asks

What is black?
An absence, a presence, a mood, a mantle.

What is red?
A blush, a flush, a fever, a command.

What is skin?
A protection.

What is fabric?
A medium.

What is texture?
A result of time.

What is function?
A reply to a need.

What is art?
A need to reply.

What is craftmanship?
A fruit of time.

What is clothing?
The final layer.

What is fashion?
A series of propositions.

What is recycling?
Another chance.

How does recycling fit into your work?
By nature.

How does a concept develop at Maison Martin Margiela?
Time, a question, another reply.

How does a concept develop at Hermes?
Time, another question, another reply.

What would you develop? Besides clothing?
An understanding.

What words do you live by?


Maison Martin Margiela for view on Colour 1998