Murder, mystery and a muse tied together by a sacred color

    WHYY’s Arts & Culture reporter Peter Crimmins has been reading a breezy, comic, farcical novel by Christopher Moore, called Sacre Bleu. He explains how it can help readers overcome a recent flood of Impressionistic art in Philadelphia.

    Summer affords many book lovers a little extra time to luxuriate between the covers. And we’re curious to hear what our NewsWorks cohort are finding of interest.

    WHYY’s Arts & Culture reporter Peter Crimmins has been reading a breezy, comic, farcical novel by Christopher Moore, called Sacre Bleu.

    “The premise of the novel assumes that the color blue is sacred, which is actually, in part, true,” said Crimmins. “A lot of what’s in this book is absolutely not true, but there are a cople of things that are true.”

    For example, the color blue is relatively rare in nature. Cave paintings don’t have blue because the mineral that the pigment the pigment comes from is rare. Historically, it hd to be imported from India and Egypt, said Crimmins. But the facts end there. 

    The novel is set in 1890. Vincent van Gogh has just shot himself. Post-Impressionists are dying. Therein lies the mystery: Why? Turn out there’s an ancient man who endows artists with the color blue, and always for a very high price. Sometimes that price is death.

    “One of the reasons I like this book,” said Crimmins, “is because this is the summer of the Barnes Foundation moving downtown. This is the summer that the Philadephia Art Museum is delivering ‘Visions of Arcadia,’ which is all about Impressionism and post-Impressionism. And if you visit the museums in town, there’s a sense that you get a little bit of overload of Impressionism and post-Impressionism.” 

    “There’s a limit to it,” said Crimmins. “A book like this allows you to sort of have fun with it.”

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