This week, KAZoART is all about colour! Artists – painters in particular – are very susceptible to colours, mixing them, arranging them, and using them to create harmony on the canvas. So much though that they sometimes even lend their name to a colour… or invent them, as in the case of Yves Klein Blue. Allow yourself to be swept up in a whirlwind of multicoloured paintings and discover six colours associated with six legendary painters…

1# Klein Blue

klein blue
IKB 79 1959 Yves Klein 1928-1962 Purchased 1972

International Klein Blue (5IKB) is an ultramarine blue paint created at the request of French artist Yves Klein (1928 – 1962) and registered at the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle in 1960. The submission is a formula for a blue paint created with a very special binding agent that gives the blue additional depth.

Klein chose to use blue because, “Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions, while the other colours have some. All colours arouse specific associative ideas, […] while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract.”

#2 Paolo Verenese Green

Paolo Verenese Green
Paolo Véronèse, Lucretius  (1580 – 1583)

This beautiful shade of green was invented in the 18th century in honour of Italian painter Paolo Véronèse 200 years after his death. Véronèse was a famous colourist renowned for his trompe-l’oeils. Originally, the pigment was made from copper arsenate, a powerful poison… but thankfully the formula was later changed! Véronèse frequently used the deep almond, almost yellow green in his paintings.

#3 Majorelle Blue

Majorelle Blue
Majorelle Garden, Marrakech, Morocco (2007) / CC BY-SA (

Majorelle Blue is quite similar to Yves Klein’s ultramarine blue but with slighter more purple. It is named after Orientalist painter Jacques Majorelle (1886 – 1962), who lived in Morocco and painted the walls of his studio and villa in this very bright blue. In 1980, the property was bought by Yves Saint-Laurent, who brought the stunning shade to the general public’s attention.

#4 Van Dyke Brown

Van Dyke Brown
Self-portrait, 1613 – 1614

Van Dyke Brown is made from iron oxide and asphaltum-like black and has a purplish-blue-red appearance. It is named after Antoine Van Dyke, a famous 17th century Dutch painter, who frequently used it to depict hair in his paintings.

#5 Nattier Blue

Nattier Blue
The Comtesse de Tillières, 1750, Wallace Collection

Jean-Marc Nattier (1685 – 1766) was the official portrait artist for the court of King Louis XV. He often dressed women in wraps and dresses in this characteristic blue (a sort of navy blue with grey hues) to which he lent his name.

#6 Pierre Soulages’ ultra-black

Pierre Soulages’ ultra-black
Pierre Soulages, Paint, 181 x 244 cm, 25 February 2009, triptych © Adagp 2011. Image © Lyon MBA – Photo Stéphane Degroisse

Ultra-black (or “outre-noir”) may be black, but it is a bright black! The term was coined by painter Pierre Soulages, who used it to describe his works, which he painted in vast monochromes to highlight the light found in the colour black through substance and reflections.