The making of a painting relies on inspiration, craft, practice, and vision. But, observes the noted science writer Philip Ball, it also hinges on science: "For as long as painters have fashioned their visions and dreams into images, they have relied on technical knowledge and skill to supply their materials."
In this lively study, Ball examines some of the tools and materials that chemists have added to the palette over the centuries. He also takes his readers on a learned tour of what science has taught us about vision, the nature of light, and the physical and cultural factors that condition our perceptions of color (the ancient Romans, he notes, had no term for brown or gray, but that does not mean they didn't use earth pigments in their work). Whether writing of matters scientific or artistic, Ball is a technologist but not a determinist. In the end, he writes, art depends not on science but on artists, and "each artist makes his or her own contract with the colors of the time."
Readers with an interest in science, art, and the crossroads where they meet will relish Ball's erudite travels across the spectrum of light. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
British science popularizer Ball (Stories of the Invisible; Life's Matrix) is part of the excellent new breed of explainers who produce imaginative and vivid prose in magazines like Nature and New Scientist. With academic degrees in chemistry and physics, Ball is also coordinator of an offbeat theater company called Homunculus. Here he applies his considerable energies to the study of how color developed in art and science from ancient history to the present. He has clearly spent time looking at art, and his range over these 14 chapters encompasses prehistory, Tintoretto and Gauguin. What painters have produced over time, Ball shows, has always been connected to the colors available to them. Major styles of painting, from the Venetian Renaissance to French impressionism, can be associated with innovations in pigment manufacture. Scientific discoveries, business imperatives and the history of art are all linked via colors on the painter's palette. In an intriguing chapter on the color in art restorations, for example, he notes, "I have often felt mystified at why Van Gogh's `Sun Flowers' commands such high regard it seems a drab, lackluster piece, uncharacteristic of the artist. But that is because we are not seeing what the artist painted. Those dirty ochres were once bright." Boasting a full and useful bibliography, this book even ventures some predictions about artists' use of color in the future, such as "pigments that change hue as we change our viewing angle." Readers will find the pigments here bright, varied and attractive. (Feb.)Forecast: A good bet for the scientifically inclined who want a grounded entry point to the arts, this book will also stretch out to art fans who want writing well-versed in art's physical bases. It's a rare example of a crossover study where an author really seems to grasp both domains.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Editorial Reviews
Great book for those interested in the fine details of where paint comes fromPublished 8 months ago by sodiumsulfate
What an interesting book and topic. It seem like I can dip into almost any page and learn a bit of interesting and perhaps useful information.Published 8 months ago by James
I had no idea colours were so complicated. I have used the information to help me in my acrylic paintings.Published 13 months ago by Linda Sanford
This has the makings of a classic, a must read for all artists. It's content about color is exceptional for the understanding and application of color principles.Published 19 months ago by Diane Myers
This book opened my eyes to the chemistry of art, and the necessity of thinking long term in the change of colors reacting with air or each other. Read morePublished 20 months ago by K. Drengler