Friday, October 06, 2006

The Virtual Color Museum

I'm fascinated by colour and am always on the lookout for anything which helps to develop my knowledge in this area. My bedtime reading at the moment is Colour: How to Use Colour in Art and Design by Edith Anderson Feisner (which only seems to be available in the UK). It's a fascinating and comprehensive book which I shall be reviewing on this blog when I've finished it.

One of the aspects of colour it covers is colour theories in history and it has one of the more thorough reviews of the different concepts that I've seen to date.

However I've now found a website which aims to provide an overview of all the various colour order systems - with a comprehensive set of images for each (some of which move around).

The Virtual Color Museum covers:

Colour order systems in art and science This covers an extremely long list of concepts of and theories about colour by people such as Aristotle, Newton, Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, Munsell, Itten and Albers right up to present day 'scientific' systems for naming and standardising colour.

Colour and culture This covers the colours and colour systems used in various cultural systems: Astrological connections, Ars Magna, I Ching, Chinese Tradition, The System of the Chakras, Hebrew Tradition,Islamic Tradition, Liturgical Traditioncovering the significance of colours used in various cultural systems: Astrological connections, Ars Magna, I Ching, Chinese Tradition, The System of the Chakras, Hebrew Tradition, Islamic Tradition, Liturgical Tradition, Symbolism, Heraldry, Anthroposophical System, L'Archeometre

It also provides:
  • a chronological bibliography of relevant literature
  • an interactive virtual colour space system for taking an interactive journey inside and having panoramic views of the colour sphere of Philipp Otto Runge
What's unique for me about this site is three things:
  • the comprehensive nature of the site
  • the systematic and accessible way in which concepts and theory are presented. Same basic structure for each theory; lots of links for further information; accessible images to expand on the narrative
  • the inclusion of images of the conceptual construct for each different system. (Or at least I there is as there's been one for each of the ones I've looked at so far.)
If you like colour and want to understand more about colour - and are prepared to accept there's a lot of information out there - this site offers a very straightforward system for developing your knowledge about colour systems. However the quantity of information on this site is quite overwhelming so make sure you don't try to do it all in one go!

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Anonymous said...

Katherine, Thanks for the great blog. I found a copy of How to Use Color in Art and Design at Also found a copy at Amazon here; I'm looking forward to receiving it. I enjoyed the Virtual Color Museum. I want to add something that wasn't mentioned about Chevreul and his influence on artists. There's a very interesting passage about him in 'Winslow Homer Artist and Angler, p.17. Chevreul, a chemist, was director of Gobelin's dye plant in Paris. Winslow Homer's brother Charles who was a chemist at Lawrence Textile Mills, came across the book and gave a copy to Winslow. He used it extensively and later in life, told a friend that it was his Bible.!

Katherine said...

What an interesting insight Joan - thanks for commenting.

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