Sunday, April 08, 2018

Morocco: Blue

Morocco is probably the most visually distinctive place I have ever been. It is as though, at some point in their history there was an agreement made that everything made by human Moroccan hands must be beautiful. Perhaps it was the Islamic aesthetic of the beauty of geometry and the beauty found in nature. Perhaps it was inspired by the drama of the landscape of verdant farmland, snowy mountains and red Sahara sand. I don't know, but I was constantly aware of color and design being a core value of the culture, and that in their color-filled world it seems blue reigns as the cool, elegant queen. In February the skies of Morocco are a brilliant blue.

That blue sky color is reflected everywhere you turn in the cities. Nearly every door, window frame and shutter is painted sky blue. The fishing boats are blue.

There is a town in Morocco where everything is blue. We did not go there, but the Kasbah of the Udeyas, a fortified village near Rabat, was very blue.

And then—the bluest blue I have ever seen. In Marrakech, in 1923, the French artist Jacques Majorelle, built his home, surrounded by a beautiful garden. He painted scenes of life in Morocco.

Painting by Majorelle

After Majorelle's death the home and garden were purchased by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who lived there with his partner until his death when the property passed to the city of Marrakech. It is now a public museum and botanical garden. The buildings and many features in the garden are painted Majorelle's favorite intense blue.

This intense, pure blue has come to be called Majorelle Blue and the pigment is somewhat rare and not readily available, but the effect of it in that garden is electric! I confess I have never been very keen on bright blue as a color, but I am gazing into our subdued, rainy, Oregon garden today and really, really wanting to see a jolt of that miraculous Moroccan blue peeking through the foliage somewhere out there.

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  1. I'm more of a scarlet or fuschia person, but wow! That blue! I LOVE it.

  2. This is so beautiful. Thanks

  3. I am a blue person. I would be in Blue Heaven. Great photos!