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Now Supply Chain Woes Have Come for the Color Blue

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Now Supply Chain Woes Have Come for the Color Blue

The Washington Post,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

It’s not just cat food anymore: COVID may make your favorite color – statistically, blue – hard to find.


Editorial Rating

8

Qualities

  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging

Recommendation

Vivid color is an essential element in art, and vital to industrial and commercial product design. COVID-19 disrupted the global trade network in the pigments and other ingredients that create artists’ and designers’ contemporary color palettes. As Kelsey Ables reports in The Washington Post, worldwide shipping delays have affected traffic in pigments along the supply chain from primary ingredient locations to paint manufacturers.

Summary

If you need a tube of ultramarine blue – which has adorned artists’ palettes throughout history – you may be out of luck.

Imagine what Picasso would have done without access to the iconic color he applied t0 more than 100 paintings during his “Blue Period.” Consider what the art world would have lost if Vermeer hadn’t been able to purchase – albeit at a very high price during his time – ultramarine blue derived from ground lapis lazuli.

Across the centuries, from ancient Egyptians – who imported ultramarine blue from Afghanistan – to Japanese printmaker Hokusai – who used a newly-imported Prussian blue in his famous image “The Great Wave” – blue pigments played a vital role throughout art history. The advent of a synthetic ultramarine in 1826 and other more recently formulated blues made the hue ...

About the Author

Kelsey Ables, an editorial aide in the Arts section, joined The Washington Post in 2019.


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