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Dark Wonderland: the Enduring Appeal of Black

Start Date 22 July 2023
End Date 08 October 2023
Venue Bendigo Art Gallery
Location Bendigo, Australia
Three white mannequins wear black mannequins in front of two dark portrait photographs: a a couple and a woman.

The colour black has been utilised in artistic endeavour since the earliest expressions of human creativity. From ancient rock painting to fashion design, the primacy, aesthetic and symbolism of black is singular in its application and meaning across art and design history.

In European cultures, black has long been associated with death and mourning, with human fallibility and melancholia. Black is also associated with the liminal spaces of night time and the underworld, with magic and with danger. Black may also signify power, prestige, intellectualism, and political resistance. In Western art, the colour principles of ‘lights advance, darks recede’ were key in enabling artists from the Renaissance period onwards to achieve depth and form in painting and printmaking. The dualisms of darkness and light – both literal and symbolic – continue to provide inspiration for artists today.