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COLOUR: Selected Work by Students in the Special Topics Seminar Interaction of Color

January 19 – Feburary 9, 2009

color wall


In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is.
This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.
-Josef Albers

To fall into colour is to run out of words.
-David Batchelor, Chromophobia

This course explored the interaction of color through the classic exercises of Josef Albers. Using Color-aid paper, students worked through the projects of Albers, exploring the highly relative and complex nature of color. A wide range of the unpredictable and elusive properties of color were examined and manipulated. Through practice, mainly trial and error, students sharpened their ability to perceive color relationships and color relativity. This part of the course was modeled after an “art school” approach, where students study color for an entire semester in their first year of foundations study. A range of the Albers projects can be seen on your left as you enter the gallery.


However, unlike most art school foundation courses, this course also examined less “formal” ideas about color through artist David Batchelor’s Chromophobia, a book that explores the fear of color in the West. We also studied various artists’ views of color from Color Chart: Reinventing Color 1950 to Today, the recent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Rather than limit the course to an approach based exclusively on Albers, we looked at less traditional, more contemporary approaches to using color alongside of Albers’ ideas. The course culminated in a final project in which each student produced his or her own color chart.

As you first enter the gallery, the wall of color you see is made up of the 314 colors that each student used to create their Albers’ color exercises. Produced by the Color-aid Corporation, this set of colors is used by artists, designers, and students to study color and create color schemes. The intensely complex nature of color was revealed to students when, as they searched for specific colors for their exercises, the 314 colors quickly shifted from seeming like a vast amount of color to a very limited palette. The packet did not contain all the colors necessary for all of the subtle shifts of hue, temperature, and value that they sought for each exercise.

The three primary texts for the course, Interaction of Color by Josef Albers, Chromophobia by David Batchelor, and the exhibition catalogue Color Chart: Reinventing Color 1950 to Today, and a variety of other color related books, are available for study on the resource table in the gallery.

The aim of such study is to develop – through experience – by trial and error – an eye for color.
This means, specifically, seeing color action as well as feeling color relatedness.… This book,
therefore, does not follow an academic conception of “theory and practice.” It reverses the order
and places practice before theory, which, after all, is the conclusion of practice.… What counts
here – first and last – is not so-called knowledge of so-called facts, but vision – seeing.

- Josef Albers, Interaction of Color

FA248A Interaction of Color
Professor Kasarian Dane

Lucia Bonsack
Evelin Chabot
Steffi Chappell
Alexandra Collins
George Hansel
Natalie Kurtz
Jessica Moore