“Greenery.” This is the color that will best guide us through 2017, as selected by Pantone. The new Color of the Year, which ousts last year’s pick of Serenity and Rose Quartz (which was really a gradient rather than a color) is, in the color company’s words, “a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore, and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals (sic) individuals to take a deep breath, oxygenate, and reinvigorate.”
Pantone, which itself originated from nature’s own gift of birds, arrives at its winning shade every year by browsing color trends in various industries, including the arts. Greenery — or, specifically, Pantone 15-0343 — makes sense: looking at the art world alone, we’ve had quite a number of nature-focused shows even in just the past year.
I first observed the trend at Pulse Miami Beach 2015, a fair of “Plants, Plants Everywhere“; at that time, the Wolfsonian–FIU was also in the midst of an exhibition focused entirely on the philodendron. Since then, in New York City alone, Rashid Johnson made a giant plant installation the centerpiece of his massive solo show, and Taryn Simon considered the politics of floral arrangements; Mary Mattingly fed us with a floating, urban forest, and Virginia Overton transformed the Whitney Museum’s terrace with aquatic sculpture gardens. In Brooklyn, plants dominated two group shows, at the soon-shuttering 99¢ Plus Gallery and at Honey Ramka; in Manhattan, nature-centric exhibitions occurred at apexart, Central Park’s Arsenal Gallery, and the Jewish Museum — where a Roberto Burle Marx exhibition welcomed visitors with a wall of native Brazilian plant species. Beyond New York, botany turned into ceramics at Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art and blossomed as glass at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
And all around the US, it was Mother Nature who put on perhaps the most wondrous show of all: the simultaneous display of corpse flowers across states that curiously bloomed together with stunning stench.
We’re clearly already drawn to all this greenery (I’m sure you’ve noticed the spike in succulent fever). For Pantone’s color experts, the role Greenery will have in 2017 is to serve as a signal for us to breathe in deep and reinvigorate our fatigued selves, who are very likely anxious or terrified at the years to come. While Serenity and Rose Quartz “expressed the need for harmony in a chaotic world,” as the Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman said in a release, “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize, and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another, and a larger purpose.”
Artists have always embraced the yellowy-green hue — you’ll find hints of it in works by names from Vincent van Gogh to Etel Adnan — without, of course, always painting nature. It’s a cool color that evokes a certain freshness yet presents us with a strong sense of serenity. Things may seem real bleak right now, but still, let’s always see the gardens grow.