From mid-Victorian marvels through to the casual glamour of JFK, Brazilian artist Marina Amaral has transformed over a century of monochrome photographic reportage into something astonishingly contemporary. Accompanied by Dan Jones’ lucid historical timeline, this is the past presented as the now, a volume that becomes an experience in the reading. The Colour of Time is a book that seized our attention from the outset, and thoroughly deserves the widest audience.
Purists argue that colourising black and white photographs is sacrilege, but the world has always been in colour. I never realised that Franz Ferdinand had deep blue eyes. In those eyes one sees a shouting crowd, a bomb, a war. Gettysburg was green grass, blue uniforms and deep red blood. Marina Amaral’s magical colourisation transforms the past. We suddenly see Sarah Bernhardt’s beauty, Mata Hari’s eroticism, the pathetic posturing of Hitler. Truth be told, monochrome is a contrivance. Human experience is always colourful.