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Bright Blue: A Brief History

From Cleopatra’s necklace to Detroit’s latest, the color that won’t go away.


Third millennium B.C.
Lapis lazuli, carved for jewelry and used as a pigment in ceramics and painting (including in such iconic artifacts as the Death Mask of Tutankhamun), is mined in Afghanistan.

The cyanotype printing process is invented. A year later, pioneering photographer Anna Atkins creates a series of cyanotype books picturing ferns and other flora.

Superman is born, followed shortly by Wonder Woman, both of them sporting red, white, and superhero-blue uniforms.

Yves Klein patents International Klein Blue, using it two years later on his sculpture, Venus.

David Bowie releases the single “Sound and Vision” (“Blue, blue, electric blue / That’s the color of my room / Where I will live”), supposedly written about cocaine withdrawal.

Two caterers and a tech geek form the Blue Man Group as an avant-garde theater piece; it goes on to become the downtown equivalent of Cats.

Chocolate lovers melt over the new, blue addition to the M&M family.

Architects announce construction of Blue, a sixteen-story tower on Norfolk Street, finished in 2007.

Winter 2008
A banner season for blue. Blue Iris named color of the year by Pantone. Designers including Jil Sander and Raf Simon incorporate the color into their collections. Lamborghini introduces an icy-blue shade at the Detroit Auto Show.


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