Milori Blue Parisian Blue Berliner Blau NH4Fe[Fe(CN)6] x 3H2O

Alchimy, Painting, Death
A Pigment and its strange history

Since March 2022, I am working with a pigment commonly called Prussian Blue, Parisian, Berlin or Milori Blue. It is the rst chemically created pigment, found by serendipity between a colour chemist and an alchimist in 1704 in Berlin: alchimist Dippel was was convinced he could turn Silver into Gold; one day, using the ash made from animal blood of chochenille for scarlet red from his colleague Diesbach,
he accidentally ended up with the colour Blue. The pigment soon became popular in art and industry, namely uniforms, replacing the expen- sive Ultramarine (Lapislazuli) and the unstable (fading) mineral azurite or the cobalt-colored glass smalt.
A chemical diversion of it, however, later turned into both a deadly substance, Zyklon B. Since 1990, it has been made into a medicine against poisoning with thallium and radioactive cesium, which is what I discovered when the war in Ukraine began.
Immdediatly, I started to mix it as egg tempera and smear it on my body for printing monotypes on canvas. Then I painted large formats mixing it with oil and turps, discovering the depth and scope of this beautiful colour.
As a painter, I am interested in the colour itself – dark, intense pigment with sometimes velvety surface,sometimes shining in golden tones and sometimes translucent like the sky – but also in the various historical undertones.

Bettina Semmer, September 2023

Aqua Fracchia, 2023, 220 x 160 cm

Saturn over Moon, 2023. 210 x 170 cm

The Universe in Three Dots, and Bikers Guide to Invisibility, 2023