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Manual, a journal about art and its making. Blue.The fourth issue. Indigo blue, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, zaffre blue, indanthrone blue, phthalo blue, cyan blue, Han blue, French blue, Berlin blue, Prussian blue, Venetian blue, Dresden blue, Tiffany blue, Lanvin blue, Majorelle blue, International Klein Blue, Facebook blue. The names given to different shades of blue speak of plants, minerals, and modern chemistry; exoticism, global trade, and national pride; capitalist branding and pure invention. The fourth issue of Manual is a meditation on blue. From precious substance to controllable algorithm to the wide blue yonder, join us as we leap into the blue.

Softcover, 64 pages. Published 2015 by the RISD Museum. Proceeds from RISD Museum publications support the work of the museum. Manual 4 (Blue) contributors include Lawrence Berman, A. Will Brown, Linda Catano, Spencer Fitch, Jessica Helfand, Kate Irvin, Oda van Maanen, Dominic Molon, Maggie Nelson, Ingrid A. Neuman, Margot Nishimura, Karen B. Schloss, Anna Strickland, Louis van Tilborgh, and Elizabeth A. Williams.

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Document Type



Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design


Providence, Rhode Island


RISD Museum; Manual; art journal


Art and Design


In this issue:

From the Files: Curatorial assistant A. Will Brown discusses color theory of Joseph Albers’s Homage to the Square series, revealing notations on the back of the canvases.

Double Takes: Curator Dominic Molon and cognitive scientist Karen Schloss illuminate the perceptual play of a Dan Flavin light sculpture; conservator Ingrid Neumann and curator Lawrence Berman unearth the matter and meaning of the ancient pigments in an Egyptian paintbox; art historian Margot Nishimura and paper preservation specialist Linda Catano look closely at the exquisite details and hues of a 15th-century manuscript illumination.

Object Lessons: Curator Kate Irvin provides a tactile archaeology of the faded shades of indigo of a Japanese boro garment. Louis van Tilborgh and Oda van Maanen of the Van Gogh Museum examine the dominant blues and disappearing violets of van Gogh’s View of Auvers-sur-Oise.

Portfolio: A survey of blue from azure to zaffre.

How To: Curator Elizabeth A. Williams illuminates the history of blue and white porcelain. Photographer Anna Strickland discusses Anna Atkins’s early cyanotypes. Artists on Art: Artist Spencer Finch presents a tear-out color study. Author Maggie Nelson considers an Alice Neel’s portrait. Graphic designer Jessica Helfand mixes Facebook blue with the cyanotype process.

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Manual / Issue 4 / Blue