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  • Empedocles

  • Democritus

    • (?460-431 BC)
    • First atomic theory: color was the result of atomic arrangements.
  • Plato

    • (428-347 BC)
    • Worked with perception of reality. If color changes based on the viewer, how can we determine the true color of objects.

(384-322 BC)

  • (384-322 BC)

    • De Coloribus ( the first know book about color)
    • Composition and relationship of color.
      • Derived from the blending of sunlight, fire, light, and lack of light.
      • Hue identification- white, black, red, yellow, brown, violet, green, blue.
      • Proposed the mixing of white and black with these hues resulted in all colors.

Mathematician, scientist, artist (1452-1519)

  • Mathematician, scientist, artist (1452-1519)

    • Treatise on Painting, 1651
    • Simple (primary) colors: white, yellow,
    • green, blue, red, black.
    • Ranked color: white- light, yellow- fire, green- water, blue-air, red- fire, black- total darkness.
      • 1st to…
        • Create system of primary colors arranged in order
        • Direct contraries intensify each other (complements)
        • Certain responses take place when colors are placed next to each other (simultaneous contrast)


  • 1643-1727

  • Opticks, 1704

  • Interested in the physics of

  • color, not the perception.

  • Newton discovered measurable,

  • mathematical patterns in the phenomenon of color.

  • He found white light to be a mixture of infinitely varied colored rays (manifest in the rainbow and the spectrum)

Based on additive color

  • Based on additive color

    • Red
    • Orange
    • Yellow
    • Green
    • Blue
    • Indigo
    • Violet

Theory of Colors, 1810.

  • Theory of Colors, 1810.

  • First modern thinker to record the

  • function of the eye rather than the

  • properties of light.

  • Opponent to Newton’s physics of light.

  • Explored every aspect of color:

    • Complementary color
    • Simultaneous contrast
    • Successive contrast
    • Effects of cast light
    • Proportional color

Philip Otto Runge

  • Philip Otto Runge

    • German painter: 1st 3D color model
  • J.C. Maxwell

  • Michel Eugene Chevreul

    • French chemist: (dye master) The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors
    • All hues could be obtained from mixing primaries (red, yellow, blue)
    • Established the laws of: simultaneous contrast, successive contrast, and optical mixing.
  • Ewald Hering

    • German physiologist and psychologist
    • Theories of color perception
    • Psychological Primaries: the primary colors of vision.
      • Red, yellow, blue, green

American-born color theorist: 1858-1918

  • American-born color theorist: 1858-1918

  • Color Notation, 1905

  • Color describe by three variables

    • Hue, value, chroma
  • Expanded the primary hues- principle colors

    • Red, yellow, blue, green, purple
  • Adopted by the US Bureau of Standards as the acceptable language of color

  • Created a system for color standardization in art

German Chemist, 1853-1932

  • German Chemist, 1853-1932

  • Nobel prize winner

  • Color model based on geometric

  • progression 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32…

  • All colors are a combination of hue, black, white

  • Created the term

    • Tint: addition of white
    • Shade: addition of black

Swiss artist, teacher: 1888-1967

  • Swiss artist, teacher: 1888-1967

  • The Art of Color/ The Elements of

  • Color- 1961

  • Bauhaus instructor- approached

  • education both physically and

  • mentally.

  • Used Runge’s color sphere but placed yellow at the top (brightest)

Teacher at the Bauhaus.

  • Teacher at the Bauhaus.

  • Refined Itten/ Kandinsky

  • At Yale, Interaction of Color- 1963

  • Much of his work was based on simultaneous

  • contrast.

  • “Homage to the Square”- investigate infinite color combinations and their reactions.

  • Explored materials beyond painting/ printmaking

printer and developer of a four-color printing process known as chromolithography in the 1860's.

  • printer and developer of a four-color printing process known as chromolithography in the 1860's.

  • (the father of the American Christmas Card)

  • Prang's system was the first workable system to reproduce color in print.

  • The Prang Color Wheel arrangement

  • was also used by Johannes Itten in

  • his work on color.

  • An outspoken advocate for bringing

  • art into the classroom through the

  • introduction of products like

  • watercolor paints.

    • More democratic ideas of who should
    • have access to art.

Prang or Artist’s Color System

  • Prang or Artist’s Color System

  • Primaries:

  • red

  • blue

  • yellow

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