After albers

Parraman, C. (2011) After albers. In: Kaleidoscope: New Perspectives on the Humanities, University of Warwick, 28th-29th May, 2011. Available from:

Full text not available from this repository

Publisher's URL:


In colour studies there is a difference between the physical wavelength of colour as proposed by Newton, and the perceptual relationship of colour as described by Goethe. Newton‘s experiments in Opticks (1704), demonstrated the transition from early history to new developments in scientific enquiry, the measurement and the physical properties of light (colours of the rainbow), and which still has an impact on how we think about and describe colour today. Goethe‘s Farbenlehre (1808) demonstrated a keen interest in colour perception and the psychological and artistic attributes of colour appearance; he begins to develop ideas towards bridging the gap between art and science. French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul‘s experiments with combinations of coloured and woven threads assisted in developing his theories on simultaneous contrast. Albers, inspired by Goethe and Chevreul developed a teaching curriculum that has inspired and educated many art students of the twentieth century. Nearly half a century later, the colour studies by Josef Albers can still be considered as a challenge to the understanding and communication of colour appearance. Colour perception in art, design, science and technology remains an issue in how we measure, describe, identify common terms, and understand the complex relationships and illusory nature of colour. In his portfolio of screenprints and supporting book, the ―Interaction of Colour, Albers provides a series of carefully executed colour plates, as a teaching aid for art students. The paper will discuss key challenges in the colour studies by Albers, his relationship and understanding of other colour theorists and practitioners: Chevreul, Goethe, Wittgenstein, Itten, Weber and Fechner, Bezold. Paper presented at the Perceiving – Colour and the Visual Arts panel, Kaleidoscope: New Perspectives on the Humanities Conference 28-29 May 2011 at University of Warwick. This panel sought to answer several questions: What is the significance of colour for the visual arts? How do painterly perceptions of colour challenge, problematise, and (re)conceptualise notions of colour? The goal of this panel was to "unweave the rainbow‟ by exploring the many ways in which artists have employed colour as a key compositional component within their works.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:colour, visual arts, perceptions of colour
ID Code:14540
Deposited By: J. Montgomery
Deposited On:16 May 2011 14:22
Last Modified:15 Nov 2016 22:05

Request a change to this item