Top 10 – Monochrome: Works of Art in Black and White




A new exhibition at the National Gallery is a celebration of monochrome and in particular painting in black and white. The term monochrome is used to describe paintings, drawings, design or photographs in one colour or values of one colour. The show at the National Gallery looks at what happens when artists cast aside the colour spectrum and focus on the visual power of black, white and everything in between. Artlyst has curated its own selection.

Lead image: Robert Mapplethorpe – Ken Moody & Robert Sherman, 1984

10. Edouard Manet – The Dead Toreador, 1864

Manet Top 10 Monochrome

Edouard Manet’s 1864 painting of a dead toreador was originally part of a much larger one, Incident in the Bull Ring, which was exhibited at the 1864 Salon. Manet was dissatisfied with it and cut it in two. Bullfight, which formed one half, is in the Frick Collection in New York and Dead Toreador which formed the lower part of the original is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.  In Dead Toreador, Manet has used the blackest of blacks for the body which seems to float in black space. The drama lies in the horizontal composition and the use of extreme lights and darks. The blackness of the clothes set against the white of his stockings and sash.


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