John Gage, Color in Art, London, Thames & Hudson, 2006, 224 p.
Colour is implicated in physics, in chemistry, in physiology and psychology, as well as in language and philosophy: yet it is visual art alone that has engaged simultaneously with most or all of these branches of knowledge and experience. Thus, to know art goes a long way towards knowing colour and, whereas in my earlier studies Colour and Culture (1993) and Colour and Meaning (1999), I gave some attention to the sciences of colour, in this book I approach these other topics largely through the thought and practice of artists. But, of course, this thought and these practices were, and are, inflected by the prevailing intellectual and social climate of the day, just as they in turn contribute to it.
This book is concerned with the history of colour, but it is not itself a history; rather, each chapter develops a theme from physics, our chemistry, or physiology, or linguistics, for example, which is intended to pinpoint that discipline’s relationship with art. Although it begins with physics and chemistry, and works through physiology, colour is primarily a psychological phenomenon. Hence, the issues raised are unlikely to be resolved, but instead will be successively reinterpreted and exemplified through the creative ingenuity of artists. I hope by the end of this survey to have conveyed some sense of this endless creativity.