"The first of all single colors is white ... We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen..." - Leonardo Da Vinci
Who doesn’t love white? The fresh, crisp, cool promise. The epitome of clean and new. The first dusting of winter snow glistening against a deep cerulean sky.
One of my favorite possessions is a bronze sculpture by Kevin Box called Architecture of Reason. About four feet tall, it rests on a black granite pedestal that raises it to the height of a tall man.
Though heavy solid bronze, the piece appears to be as light as origami. Backed with pure gold leaf, this glowing piece delights me. Deceptively, this enormously strong object appears to be made of delicate white paper which has been carefully and crisply folded at its upper edge. From top to bottom it descends and appears to become less organized and eventually is crumbled and random in texture.
I recognize it as emblematic of a person’s fluctuating thinking and perception; this sculpture aligns with my theory that within each of us is a complex blending of reason and anarchy; that we vibrate between logic and a more elemental force. However Freudian it might be, this elegantly simple sculpture speaks to me and most emphatically because it is WHITE.
I suppose you could say I collect white art.
The library mantle at Hayslip Design Associates.
There are many reasons… not the least of which is the fact that as an interior designer I deal with a multitude of colors and textures and patterns continuously. While I feel that there are no bad colors, only poor combinations or contexts of any color in some situations (the same color could be glorious in another setting), I do feel a craving to withdraw from the constant aesthetic chatter that lots of color and pattern create. (This may be why many if not most interior designers are drawn to “white rooms”. We need to cleanse the palette, aesthetically speaking, from time to time.)
So one reason I like white art is probably that is refreshes my eye.
Another reason relates to the sculpture I described above. To me, because we respond so powerfully to color, it is very easy to love a vivid Post Impressionist painting, to thrill to a massive Kandinsky work, to be transported emotionally by a Rothko piece as it vibrates with all the nuances his magnificent art exudes. Similarly, walking into a richly colored 18th century French interior can stun you with its interplay of glowing damasks, gilded boiserie, richly hued marbles and lavish woods and inlays. Perhaps color is nature’s way to woo us, to increase our aesthetic endorphins.
Yet, to love an object that lacks color, that is simply and evocatively white…this may require a more thoughtful and less visceral response. The Chinese understood this in the high value they came to place on white jade objects, and Blanc de Chine porcelains.
Antique Blanc de Chine Quan Yin
Blanc de Chine Foo Dogs
For me, when artists such as Kevin Box create these colorless objects, they are deepening their art.
Joan Winters, another artist I really like, uses Lucite and wood to create minimalistic, ethereal sculptures. Thoughtful and strict in her art, Joan weaves the sensuality of the human spirit into her undulating forms.
2010 exhibit of Joan’s work at Dubhe Carreño Gallery
They would be far less if they were colorful…it is their ascetic nature that shocks in counterpoint to their shadowy sexuality.
Another of Joan’s beautiful pieces…
and an interesting close up that reminds me of the swirls of the Aurora Borealis.
We’re lucky enough to have these two interesting pieces are in our office.
This piece, made of swirls of Lucite and silver bird’s eye maple, glows against deep charcoal grey Venetian plaster walls.
"White ... is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black.... God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white." -Gilbert Keith Chesterton
I have a client who only uses white flowers in her gardens and in her house. The effect is stunning and very sophisticated. For myself, I prefer flowers so vibrant that they clang together…. intense pink combined with hot orange for example. But in a way, I understand her preference for a snowy whiteness in all her floral elements…
Daniel Ost’s beautiful interpretation of ethereal white flowers.
There is such beauty in an absence of color.
About the Designer
Over the past 30 plus years, Sherry Hayslip, ASID, IIDA, has established a reputation as one of the premier interior designers in Dallas/Fort Worth. As owner and principal designer of Hayslip Design Associates, Inc., Sherry is personally involved in every firm project.
Sherry received her bachelor’s degree with honors and has done graduate work in Liberal Arts at SMU. She also attended Parsons School of Design in Italy, the National Institute of Design and the Cooper Hewitt graduate studies program in Italy, studying in Rome at the Cornell University abroad program and numerous other study trips. One of the secrets of her success is her passion for this continuing study in the decorative arts and architecture. She attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Design summer programs and participated in a Bard Graduate Studies in Decorative Arts Program. Along with architect Cole Smith, Sherry co-founded the Dallas Symposium of Decorative Arts & Architecture. The Symposium was held for seven years in conjunction with the Dallas Museum of Art and brought scholars from Europe and the United States to lecture for each three-day event. In 2009, the 20th anniversary of the Symposium was celebrated with a one-day lecture featuring two of the original speakers.
Sherry's range of experience is a reflection of her insistence on researching the history of whatever style she is working in and discovering what draws the client to that aesthetic. She has worked on everything from a grand, 36,000 square-foot, 1750’s plantation residence on the National Historic Registry, to a miniscule .05 square-foot tree trunk home for an imaginary bunny. She is a licensed Interior Designer in the state of Texas.