Color: A Visual History from Newton to Modern Color Matching Guides
by Alexandra Loske
Charts color exploration and expression from the 1600s to the present day through painters' tools, art, ephemera, and literature
Throughout history, artists, scientists, and philosophers have attempted to explain and order the visible color spectrum. Color: A Visual History from Newton to Modern Color Matching Guides offers the fascinating history of how color has been recorded, explored, and understood. Using an extraordinary collection of original color material that includes charts, wheels, artists' palettes, and swatches, the book showcases centuries of significant scientific discoveries and artistic exploration. It celebrates the visual quality and beauty of various color theories over time and highlights the creativity of their design and codification. The book showcases everything from fourteenth-century illuminated manuscripts to Moses Harris's The Natural System of Colours (ca. 1769), and from 1814's Werner's Nomenclature of Colours to Paul Klee's color harmonies to highlight the fascinating interactions of science and art. This stunning display of shades, tints, and tones is an authoritative guide for anyone working in the arts, as well as anyone passionate about color in their personal lives, homes, and surroundings.
ALEXANDRA LOSKE is an art historian, curator, and editor with a particular interest in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century European art and architecture. She is the managing editor of the Frogmore Press, which publishes the Frogmore Papers literary journal and other collections.
"If you want to understand society, look at the way it talks about hue, suggests a new tome from art historian Alexandra Loske."
In keeping with the study of color in general, Color: A Visual History from Newton to Modern Color Matching Guides intertwines the history of scientific discoveries and artistic explorations. Organized chronologically, the book comprises five major sections, starting with the 18th century and the "color revolution" and concluding with the 21st century. Each section offers brief essays on important northern-European color inventions, experimentations, and discoveries. Excellent color images appear throughout the book, with a strong emphasis on historical color manuals, and the result is, in effect, a review of color theory. Of particular interest are reproductions of pages from the original color texts showing charts, color systems information, and swatches. Artists' color palettes—actual palettes and self-portraits of artists holding palettes—are also pictured and explored as both primary sources and symbolic representations. In addition to canonical figures and materials, the book looks at contributions of women and less-familiar examples. Loske finishes with a few key contemporary art pieces that directly continue the legacy of using color theory as a point of artistic reference. A good introduction to color theory, the book will interest students in a range of subjects in which color is relevant and studied.