Pantone's Emerald Green (Image via Pantone)

Pantone’s Emerald Green (Image via Pantone)

Pantone’s Color of the Year 2013 is … emerald! The company’s famed color consultants have come up with the single hue that will define our coming year, and it’s a deep, elegant version of green.

Pantone describes their choice as “Lively. Radiant. Lush … a color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.” The thing is, the green they’ve chosen isn’t exactly organic. It’s this funny spinoff of forest green that seems like something you’d find in a molding bed of moss. To me, it has this connotation of a certain richness but also irrelevance, a kind of aging royalty vibe.

How is this going to influence your year? Here are five artists and objects that Pantone’s 2013 color of the year reminds us of, so you can prepare.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, 1887 self portait, “Self-Portrait with Bandage and Hat” (1887) (Images via

Van Gogh was super forward-thinking with his color choices, apparently. He was a big fan of emerald green, donning a perfectly fashionable emerald coat for his 1889 “Self-Portrait with Bandage and Pipe.” The color also features in the background of his 1887 self-portrait, playing off the artist’s emerald green eyes and red beard.

Alex Katz

Alex Katz, “Green Shadow #2” (1998) (Image courtesy Tate)

Another painter obsessed with emerald green, Katz uses the hue to liven up his effortlessly tight depictions of plants and forests. See his “Daises #2” (1992) where the color makes up a swiftly suggested background of grass blades or “Green Shadow #2” (1998) where it presents a contrast to another signature Katz color, the yellow of the setting sun.

The Land of Oz

L. Frank Baum’s capital of his fictional land isn’t called the Emerald City for nothing. We would not suggest to any starchitects who happen to be listening that they begin building skyscrapers out of emerald, however. Rem Koolhaas might be able to pull it off (remember his Seattle library) but that’s about it.


Book of Kells, Christ Enthroned (Image via

Medieval illuminators used malachite, a green mineral named for the mallow plant, to create some of the rich green paints they used in manuscripts like the Book of Kells, in which the color fills the filigree of page borders.


It’s probably not a coincidence that much of emerald green brings to mind is Irish. If you’re going to really embrace the coming wave of emerald green, just be careful to not let anyone maul you for your pot of gold.

Last year’s Pantone color was something called “Tangerine Tango,” a mixture of red and orange that showed up on runways and, coincidentally, isn’t too far from Renzo Piano’s signature color. Maybe Zaha Hadid will take up green to compensate?

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

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