Bibliographical History of the Study and Use of Color From Aristotle to Kandinsky

Author: Burchett, Kenneth E.
This book has three parts. Part One outlines historical trends in the study and use of color from antiquity to the present, with emphasis on color harmony and color in art. The history of color harmony meaning is traced from Aristotle through Kandinsky, to Modern and Postmodern ideas. Discussed are the important contributions to color theory of Alberti, da Vinci, Rubens, Descartes, LeBlon, Hogarth, and Delacoioix, to name a few. Chapters are included on the systematic color analyses of Newton, Goethe, and Chevreul, as well as those of Schopenhauer, Young, Brewster, and Runge; the groundbreaking color-vision research of Helmholtz and the notable scientific studies of Fechner and Rood; the influence of scientific color on such artists as Seurat; and the color organization theories of Moses Harris, Munsell, and Ostwald. Coverage is given to the psychology of affective response, including, among others, Wundt, Allesch, Kirschman, Birkoff, Katz, Arnheim, and Ehrenzweig. Color education is explored through such 20th century teachers as Itten, Katz, Albers, Pope, Sargent, Henri, and many more. Histories, anthologies, and bibliographies introduce Gage, Indergrand, Birren, and other late 20th century literary resources on color. Described is the role that color handbooks and quick-study references play in color harmony. An overview of the inconsistencies in the language of color is presented, and some of the current research attitudes toward the enigmatic subject of color harmony today are sampled.

Part Two covers the landmark color publications of Goethe, Chevreul, Helmholtz, Kandinsky, Katz, Judd, Albers, Wright, Itten, Arnheim, Munsell, and Pope. Bibliographic summaries are provided of the various editions of their books. Included are biographies and bibliographies of each author.

Part Three includes a bibliography of 100 books on color ranked in order of importance in the study and use of color through time. Contributors to the list include Rudolf Arnheim, Faber Birren, Frans Gerritsen, David Lewis MacAdam, and Siegfried Rösch, and others. The method used to construct the bibliography is described. The text includes references, general bibliography, a special retrospective bibliography on color harmony and color use in art, subject lists arranged by dates of publication for cross-referencing, and indexes.


“Anyone interested in color and color harmony will welcome this important work to the published literature. The author's life-long interest in research on this topic has resulted in a comprehensive treatment of the literature that is well-organized into logical subjects and themes on color and color harmony. It will, no doubt, become a standard reference for anyone doing future research in this area ... The Bibliography consists of four parts. Part one is a retrospective bibliography of specially selected books on color and color harmony with copyright dates prior to 1975. Part two is a general bibliography on color and color harmony in art containing a broader representation of 1,450 titles from antiquity forward, with the bulk being 20th century publications. Part three of the bibliography is a compilation of bibliographies of color, while part four cross references titles in the general bibliography arranged in 37 color subject categories ranging from "aesthetics" to "vocabulary." Each is cross-referenced by topic and date of publication. Scholars and researchers will find this section of the book, along with the well prepared indexes, invaluable because of their comprehensiveness. The author has collected in one place one of the most extensive bibliographies on color in existence which will, no doubt, facilitate additional inquiry into the field of color and color harmony … This book brings together a massive amount of information on color and color harmony. Having the information available in one volume makes a major contribution to the published literature on color. This effort will be welcomed by current and future scholars in the larger field of visual arts.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor D. Jack Davis, University of North Texas

“ ... A historical base situates the reader with the earliest information produced, and the subsequent broad themes used to organize each chapter present a good way to group the various theories found in the literature ... an easy reference for those with knowledge of the subject or for those researchers interested in gaining a thorough knowledge of the literature ... excellent and authoritative analysis based on thorough knowledge of the authors and their work. The ease with which the author is able to critique and analyze the material shows deep knowledge of the subject ...” – Amber Mackey, Acquisitions Editor, Art Appreciation, Humanities, Studio Art, Prentice Hall

“ ... I was amazed to see the origins are clearly evident in ancient Greece and that color issues are ever present whether it be the current day or antiquity. To see the genius of the past (i.e., Goethe) as well as the current day artist deal with these matters makes clear the intensity that exists concerning the mysteries of color.” – Bud Therien, Editor, Prentice Hall

“ ... this book is both a reliable source and an encyclopedic reference for historical aspects of color usage. This book will certainly be one of the important places to start for serious scholars who wish to consult the original literature ...” – Leonardo Reviews

"As stated by the author in the introduction, the purpose of this book is "to assimilate the knowledge available on the subject of color aesthetics and to interpret the many ideas which over the history of color study have shaped present understanding of the response to color." As a result the author has put together a comprehensive treatment of the literature on the subject of color harmony. Part 1 of the book covers the history of color harmony. Many of the topics mentioned here are difficult to find in the present literature. Here he follows the history of the study of color from ancient Greece to modern times. Part 2 analyzes 12 books that are considered classics in the study of color. The books cover a 150-year time span and include the works of Goethe, Munsell, Katz, Arnheim, and Itten. Part 3 discusses the compilation process of the bibliography and the credentials of the five authorities who were consulted in the construction of the bibliography. Part 4, the bibliography itself, begins about two-thirds of the way through the book. It is divided into four parts: a retrospective of selected books on color harmony with copyright dates prior to 1975; a general bibliography of color harmony titles from antiquity through the twentieth century; a bibliography of works on color; and a section cross-referencing titles in the general bibliography into 37 color subject categories. This work provides in one volume all of the scholarship available on color theory and color harmony for students and scholars in the area of visual arts. It will be a welcome addition to academic libraries." —Shannon Graff Hysell

Table of Contents

Preface by D. Jack Davis
1. Classical Color harmony
2. Development of Color Harmony Meaning
3. Systematic Color Study: the First Division, Color Analysis
4. Systematic Color Study: the Second Division, Color Vision
5. Proliferation of Meanings
6. Coexistence of Meanings
7. Consolidation of Meanings, New Discipline Alliances
8. Reflection and Search for the Status Quo
9. Postmodernism and the Information Age
10. Color Harmony and Color Guides
11. Coda: On the Language of Color
12. Twelve Books on Color
13. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
14. M.E. (Michel Eugene) Chevreul
15. Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz
16. Josef Albers
17. Wassily Kandinsky
18. David Katz
19. Deane Brewster Judd
20. W. D. (William David) Wright
21. Johannes Itten
22. Rudolf Arnheim
23. A. H. (Albert Henry) Munsell
24. Arthur Pope
25. Authors and Authorities
26. Constructing the Bibliographies Vocabulary
Index of Names
Index of Subjects