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Bright Blue: A Brief History

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

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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.


1842
The cyanotype printing process is invented. A year later, pioneering photographer Anna Atkins creates a series of cyanotype books picturing ferns and other flora.


1938
Superman is born, followed shortly by Wonder Woman, both of them sporting red, white, and superhero-blue uniforms.


1960
Yves Klein patents International Klein Blue, using it two years later on his sculpture, Venus.

1977
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.


1988
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.


1995
Chocolate lovers melt over the new, blue addition to the M&M family.


2005
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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