Of Color
Of Color
Of Color
Of Color
Of Color

Of Color

Regular price $35.00
Color affects us in profound ways.


“The eye creates freedom for itself by producing the opposite of that which is forced upon it, creating in this way a satisfying whole”

"Human beinsg themselves, to the extent that they makes sound use of his senses, is the most exact physical apparatus that can exist."


"Color is life, for a world without color seems dead. As a flame produces light, light produces color. As intonation lends color to the spoken word, color lends spiritually realized sound to a form."

"If you, unknowing, are able to create masterpieces in color, then unknowledge is your way. But if you are unable to create masterpieces in color out of your unknowledge, then you ought to look for knowledge."


"If one says 'Red' and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different."

"In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually."

"THE ORIGIN OF ART: The discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect. THE CONTENT OF ART: Visual information of our reaction to life. THE MEASURE OF ART: The ratio of effort to effect. THE AIM OF ART: Revelation and evocation of vision."


""I cannot see why sensation should be less precise than thought. The scientist designs conceptual models, the artist perceptual models."


"They who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery."

Faber Birren (1900-1988) was an early practitioner in the color industry, establishing his own consulting firm with a specialization in color in 1934. He advised on topics such as product color, environmental safety, and staff morale for clients. Birren also applied his professional knowledge to popular culture products such as stationery or cocktail glasses that emphasized individual color preference.

One of Faber Birren’s beliefs about color was that we use color every day to express ourselves, to communicate our thoughts and feelings, and to help us with self-identification. Rather than saying that colors have a direct influence on emotions, Birren wrote that it is the human perception of colors that affect our emotions.

Birren was a prolific author producing 25 books and scores of articles in a variety of venues from peer-reviewed journals to high-circulation popular magazines. Birren’s very successful career allowed him to leave a permanent legacy of his work in color through the Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color. He donated a core collection of 226 books on historic color theory to the Art+Architecture Library at Yale University in 1971.

A common thread throughout Birren’s work is that the power of color depends on a person’s perception of it. Different environmental conditions can cause a certain color to look different to the human eye, or more accurate, the human brain. Birren calls this field of study Perceptionism.

In the visual arts, color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual effects of a specific color combination. There are also definitions (or categories) of colors based on the color wheel: primary color, secondary color[1] and tertiary color. Although color theory principles first appeared in the writings of Leone Battista Alberti (c. 1435) and the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1490), a tradition of "colory theory" began in the 18th century, initially within a partisan controversy over Isaac Newton's theory of color (Opticks, 1704) and the nature of primary colors. From there it developed as an independent artistic tradition with only superficial reference to colorimetry and vision science.

Color theory was originally formulated in terms of three "primary" or "primitive" colors—red, yellow and blue (RYB)—because these colors were believed capable of mixing all other colors. This color mixing behavior had long been known to printers, dyers and painters, but these trades preferred pure pigments to primary color mixtures, because the mixtures were too dull (unsaturated).

The RYB primary colors became the foundation of 18th century theories of color vision,as the fundamental sensory qualities that are blended in the perception of all physical colors and equally in the physical mixture of pigments or dyes. These theories were enhanced by 18th-century investigations of a variety of purely psychological color effects, in particular the contrast between "complementary" or opposing hues that are produced by color afterimages and in the contrasting shadows in colored light. These ideas and many personal color observations were summarized in two founding documents in color theory: the Theory of Colours (1810) by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and The Law of Simultaneous Color Contrast (1839) by the French industrial chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.

For much of the 19th century artistic color theory either lagged behind scientific understanding or was augmented by science books written for the lay public, in particular Modern Chromatics (1879) by the American physicist Ogden Rood, and early color atlases developed by Albert Munsell (Munsell Book of Color, 1915, see Munsell color system) and Wilhelm Ostwald (Color Atlas, 1919). Major advances were made in the early 20th century by artists teaching or associated with the German Bauhaus, in particular Wassily Kandinsky, Johannes Itten, Faber Birren and Josef Albers, whose writings mix speculation with an empirical or demonstration-based study of color design principles.

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