Tate Britain

Derek Jarman: Blue 1 May – Autumn 2017

Main Floor
Derek Jarman, ‘Blue’ 1993
Derek Jarman, Blue 1993. Tate. © Basilisk Communications Ltd, 1993

Experience this British artist and filmmaker’s final feature

The blood of sensibility is blue
I consecrate myself
To find its most perfect expression
–Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman (1942–1994) was a film director, artist, writer and stage designer. Blue 1993, an unchanging blue screen with a soundtrack of spoken word and music, is his final and most radical film, completed only a few months before he died of an AIDS-related illness.

The film was inspired by the artist Yves Klein (1928–1962). In 1974, Jarman saw Klein’s blue paintings at the Tate Gallery and first conceived the idea of making a ‘blue film’. Klein used an ultramarine pigment solution that he patented as International Klein Blue. For Klein, the colour embodied his idea of art as a sensorial experience which transcends reality to reach an immaterial, spiritual beyond. Jarman used this blue to represent what he called ‘the admirable austerity of the void’ in his film. He was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1986.

As the artist’s health deteriorated, the film became a self-reflective meditation on his illness and loss of sight. The script incorporates poetic and diary-like texts. It was written by Jarman and is performed by the artist and his long-term collaborators John Quentin, Tilda Swinton and Nigel Terry. The soundtrack includes an original score composed by Simon Fisher Turner and a soundscape by Marvin Black, as well as music by Brian Eno, Karol Szymanowski and Erik Satie, among others. 

A full transcript of Blue’s text is available for consultation.

Curated by Elena Crippa 


Tate Britain
London SW1P 4RG
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Monochrome means one colour, so in relation to art, a monochrome artwork is one that includes only one colour