Amplifier for Art, Science and Society

© EPFL - Alain Herzog

  • Symposium

Lecture by Michel Pastoureau "History and symbolism of black"


Forum Rolex


Michel Pastoureau is doing us the immense honor of holding this conference at EPFL in connection with the exhibition Noir c'est noir? Les Outrenoirs de Pierre Soulages. He is the author of works on the history of colors in the Western world: Bleu (2000), Noir (2008), Vert (2013) and Rouge (2016).

French historian, medievalist, and director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, where he has held the chair of History of Western Symbolism since 1983, Michel Pastoureau was elected French correspondent of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres on April 28, 2006. He is a member of the International Academy of Heraldry, President of the French Society of Heraldry and Sigillography, and teaches regularly at the École du Louvre.

He has published some forty books on the history of colors, animals and symbols, some of which have been translated into several languages. His early works deal with the history of emblems and related fields: heraldry, sigillography and numismatics. On November 3, 2010, he was awarded the Prix Médicis essai for his work Les Couleurs de nos souvenirs. The same year, Pastoureau published a catalog of 350 photographs - Couleurs - to usher in a different relationship to color through images. Divided into six parts, the catalog reviews white, red, black, green, blue and yellow. For each color there are around fifty photographs that evoke its values and meanings, without captions.

In July and August 2015, Pastoureau produced with Mathilde Wagman the radio program Les animaux aussi ont une histoire on France Culture, whose ambition is to explore the greatest narratives of the social, cultural, religious and symbolic history of our civilization in order to compose an enchanted radio bestiary. In June 2016, he wrote his first ever children's book, published with Editions Privat, explaining the color black to children: Pierre n'a plus peur du noir, texts by Michel Pastoureau and illustrations by Laurence Le Chau.