Back in Black
Red and blue serve as the antithesis of each other due to their emotional and hormonal effects on the body, but the most absolute contrast that exists is the difference between black and white.
Yes or no questions are labeled “black or white” questions. And black and white serve as the assigning colors in all of the reigning absolutes of today: day and night, good and evil, birth and death (Color 178). As Eiseman said, “black and white is the quintessential and most classic combination of strength and clarity, power and purity (Eiseman 61).”
Black shades on objects give an impression of weight and strength perceptually — it gives objects a sturdy, solid feel. Spatially, blackness, like in outer space, implies vast emptiness and a more foreboding perception of infinity than blue skies depict.
Dating back hundreds of years, the majority of associations to the color were negative. Mystics claimed black-tinted auras indicated hatred and malice. “Sable,” the traditional root for the word, signifies grief and penitence (Birren 173). Society mourned the end of life by donning solid black garments at funerals. And at the root of many disparaging phrases was this color: such as in blacklist, blackmail, black sheep and black market.
However, attitudes about black have changed more than any other color in recent years. In some cultures, black is still associated with mourning, but the color has gained a reputation of prominence and sophistication in the past two centuries.
In shows and presentations during the 1830’s, men dressed quite eccentric, wearing sky blue shirts, dove grey pants and primose waistcoats. But one or two men appeared all in black, and the look caught on by the second half of the 19th century. This era, marked as one in which hard work, industrial development and sober outlooks skyrocketed as key values, aided the dissipation of color from upper-class men”s clothing (Color 185).
Strong. Classic. Elegant. Such black came to be, perhaps epitomized in the release of the sleek black Model-T cars produced by Henry Ford in the 1910s. When Fords first hit the market, it was the wealthier class who acquired them, and such influence and weight was pronounced in the shiny black body of the car.
Thus, the mournful atmosphere surrounding black has given way to sophistication as more people identify it with black limos, black tie events, polished granite and other upscale looks that pronounce elegance (Eiseman 60).