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Luiss Ortega
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[PDF] Chromaphilia: The Story Of Color In Art

Chromaphilia: The Story of Color in Art

Color is one of the most expressive and powerful elements in art. It can evoke emotions, create moods, convey meanings, and enhance aesthetics. But how did artists throughout history use color in their works? What are the scientific and cultural aspects of color that influenced their choices? And how can we appreciate and understand the role of color in art better?

In this article, we will explore the book Chromaphilia: The Story of Color in Art by Stella Paul, which offers a fascinating and comprehensive overview of the history and theory of color in art. The book uses 240 artworks as case studies to tell the story of ten individual colors or color groups, from white to black, and from yellow to violet. It also provides easy-to-follow explanations of the science and technology behind specific colors, such as optics, pigments, and digital media.

[PDF] Chromaphilia: The Story of Color in Art

The Author

Stella Paul is an art historian and educator who has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has a PhD in art history from UCLA and has published several books and articles on various topics related to art and color. She is also a painter and a color enthusiast who enjoys experimenting with different media and techniques.

The Book

Chromaphilia: The Story of Color in Art was published by Phaidon Press in 2017. It is divided into ten chapters, each focusing on a different color or color group. Each chapter begins with an introduction that explains the origin, symbolism, and significance of the color in question. Then, it presents 24 artworks that illustrate how artists from different periods and regions used the color in their compositions, styles, and themes. The artworks range from ancient sculptures and manuscripts to modern paintings and installations, covering a wide spectrum of genres and movements. Each artwork is accompanied by a brief commentary that analyzes its formal and conceptual aspects, as well as its historical and cultural context.

The book also includes a glossary of terms related to color, such as hue, saturation, value, temperature, and harmony. It also provides a timeline of color milestones that highlights some of the most important discoveries and inventions that shaped the development of color in art. Furthermore, it features a bibliography of sources for further reading and research.

The Highlights

Some of the highlights of the book are:

  • The chapter on white explores how artists used white to create effects of light, purity, spirituality, and abstraction. It features artworks such as the Parthenon sculptures, Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, Kazimir Malevich's White on White, and Robert Ryman's Untitled.

  • The chapter on red examines how artists used red to convey passion, power, violence, and beauty. It features artworks such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Titian's Venus of Urbino, Francisco Goya's The Third of May 1808, and Mark Rothko's No. 14.

  • The chapter on blue investigates how artists used blue to express spirituality, depth, mystery, and emotion. It features artworks such as the Ishtar Gate, Jan van Eyck's The Arnolfini Portrait, Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night, and Yves Klein's Anthropometry.

  • The chapter on green explores how artists used green to represent nature, life, harmony, and envy. It features artworks such as the Emerald Buddha, Sandro Botticelli's Primavera, Henri Matisse's The Green Stripe, and Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych.

  • The chapter on yellow examines how artists used yellow to evoke warmth, joy, decadence, and madness. It features artworks such as the Mask of Tutankhamun, Gustav Klimt's The Kiss, Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, and Damien Hirst's For the Love of God.

  • The chapter on orange investigates how artists used orange to create contrast, vibrancy, energy, and movement. It features artworks such as the Terracotta Army, Paul Gauguin's Tahitian Women on the Beach, Wassily Kandinsky's Composition VIII, and Alexander Calder's Flamingo.

  • The chapter on purple explores how artists used purple to signify royalty, spirituality, luxury, and creativity. It features artworks such as the Sutton Hoo Helmet, Raphael's Madonna of the Meadow, Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Canna, and Prince's Purple Rain.

  • The chapter on brown examines how artists used brown to depict earth, flesh, wood, and metal. It features artworks such as the Venus of Willendorf, Rembrandt's The Night Watch, Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and Anselm Kiefer's Nigredo.

  • The chapter on gray investigates how artists used gray to create mood, atmosphere, balance, and neutrality. It features artworks such as the Bayeux Tapestry, Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise, Gerhard Richter's Abstract Painting, and Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate.

  • The chapter on black explores how artists used black to evoke darkness, death, mystery, and elegance. It features artworks such as the Lascaux Cave Paintings, Francisco Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son, Kazimir Malevich's Black Square, and Pierre Soulages' Outrenoir.

The Conclusion

Chromaphilia: The Story of Color in Art is a captivating and informative book that reveals the secrets of color in art. It is a must-read for anyone who loves art and color, or who wants to learn more about the history and theory of color in art. The book is also a visual feast that showcases some of the most stunning and diverse artworks that use color in creative and meaningful ways.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can find it online in PDF format or order a hardcopy from Phaidon Press. You can also watch a video presentation by the author on YouTube. Happy reading!


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