Pablo Picasso. Mary Cassatt. Yves Klein. Georgia O'Keeffe.
This is just a handful of the many 20th century artists who've dipped their brush in a pool of blue pigment. From Picasso's much-studied "Blue Period" to Klein's invention of IKB (International Klein Blue), painters in particular seemed to have gone bananas -- or maybe blueberries? -- over the cool color choice.
However, according to Swiss Ph.D. student Martin Bellander, the rampant use of the color blue -- whether it's lapis or indigo or cerulean -- is actually a pretty recent trend. In a data analysis project posted online, Bellander surveyed around 94,526 paintings made between 1800 and 2000 and found that, in fact, our obsession with blue has been increasing over the past several decades. While orange was the reigning hue of the 19th century, blue tones have been steadily dominating painters' palettes since World War I.
— Martin Bellander (@m_bellander) April 4, 2015
The the details of Bellander's analysis make it east to geek out. He explains from where he pulled his population of paintings (BBC, Google Art Project, Wikipedia) and how he sorted their respective colors (he focused on a random set of 100 pixels from each image). He also gives his two cents on why artists love blue more than ever (resins have aged and changed over time and the price of blue paint has decreased). While his study is by no means comprehensive, he provides an easily understood visualization of blue's growing power -- not to mention a good pun.
Business Insider did a good job of pointing out earlier this year that blue has had a relatively short history of existence. In honor of the color's growing importance in art, we've put together a list of our favorite blue paintings (and a few prints) in 19th and 20th century art history: