pink and its burdens

The old man who lives here has been painting his house pink for decades. Its a particularly noxious shade.
I've always liked this building down on Grand Street. It's fate is in question.Below, random pinks
my classic pink bathroom
British paint company Farrow and Ball have an unusual take on pink.
From Color Standards and Nomenclature by Robert Ridgway, 1912
2 images of Jaipur "the Pink City"
delicate pale pink petit fours pass the aesthetic test
vintage wallpaper pattern from retrorenovation. Perhaps as an accent...
I love the idea of this color more than it's reality
Fuschia, the flower. There is also the Pink. I dont like either.
Mrs Lincoln's Solferino dinnerware, purchased at Haughwout's in NYC
I was thinking about pink. Its not a color I like particularly— or rather, there are just a few shades of pink that I actually like: pale pinks, coral pinks, grey pinks. Thus, having lost my slim black leather iPhone sleeve, it was galling to be forced into purchasing, for expediency's sake, an embarrassing 1980s-fuschia neoprene number. That was when I realized pink can be a particularly onerous color. It comes with a lot of baggage: Nazis, gay activism, indigestion, gum, cancer, lipstick, princesses, saccharine, porn and low-brow taste. There have been heated treatises on how social conditioning has corralled the sexes into blue/pink ghettoes. And isn't it always the pink house the neighbors complain about? That pink brownstone at the top of the page is right around the corner from me. It has been that way for so long even the landmarks commission looks the other way. Its famous (just google "pink building" and it'll be one of the top returns) so people don't really get too worked up now.

Not too long ago the New York Times had
an article about how the pink bathroom, reviled relic of the late 1940s-1950s, is making a comeback. I happen to have a classic pink bathroom which I quite enjoy—its more of a warm blush or shell pink rather than the cold, dare I say more vulgar, cherry pinks I associate with the 1960s. The people behind SavethePinkBathrooms.com are not discriminating enough in my opinion.

Pink had one of it's heydays in the late 1970s/early 80s, with Fiorucci, New Wave and neon. I
n high school had a pair of neon pink ankle socks I wore with black pumps. Another high point for the color was in the 1930s with Elsa Schiaparelli's "shocking" pink. I would decline to wear either color these days.

Probably one of the biggest events in pinkdom was the "discovery" of the purplish pink Magenta and it's lesser known fraternal twin, the pinkish purple Solferino.
Both, oddly, named after towns in Northern Italy that experienced exceptionally bloody battles (on June 4 and June 24, 1859, respectively) during the Italian war of Independence (Solferino alone seeing 40,000 casualties in a single day). The colors were created out of coal tar— or something like that— shortly after the battles and named in recognition. So during the early 1860s ladies were magenta mad, with even Mrs Lincoln buying a dining service in Solferino.

Pink is one of the few (the only?) colors that has changed color: at one time it designated a
yellowish green. It is also one of the few names used as a verb (decorate with a perforated pattern or zigzag edge, cf. pinking shears), but that is from another etymological root of the word. In fact there are so many variations on the origin of pink— ships, winking, small size, perforations–its too much to go into here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your classic pink bathroom looks very much like my grandmother's old one on ocean avenue. That building was a deco dream. I still have faded memories of the lobby before they "renovated" it- big round mirrors and exotic foliate murals. By the time I was 6 or 7, they took down the mirrors, and painted the whole lobby with a contrasting fleur du lis pattern that was cut into the roller. Elevators were faux combed woodgrain. Gack!

Oh, and don't pinking shears come from the edge of the flower petal?



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