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Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music, and Psychology Paperback – February 15, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Riley's richly rewarding scholarly study explores the multiple meanings of color in painting, from the bold experiments of Robert and Sonia Delaunay and the Fauves, to Matisse's key influence on Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, David Hockney and Milton Avery to the spiritual use of color in Kandinsky, Gauguin, Van Gogh and the chromatic investigations of Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Ryman and others. A thirst for an alternative, transcendental order motivated the philosophers Hegel, Oswald Spengler and Jacques Derrida in their theorizing on color, writes Riley, World Art correspondent and professor of English at Baruch College in New York. In architecture, he traces a renascence of color (Michael Graves, James Stirling); in music, he shows how chromaticism evokes the mind's complexity and spiritual yearnings (Wagner, Stockhausen, Schoenberg, Messiaen); in literature, he delves into structural analogies between color and language (Joyce, Proust, Pynchon, Wallace Stevens, A.S. Byatt). The theories of Freud, Jung and Gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim help Riley elucidate the vital role of color in dreams, perception, emotion and memory. Illustrated.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

At the outset of this scholarly work, Riley (English, Baruch Coll., CUNY) states: "The first thing to realize about the study of color in our time is its uncanny ability to evade all attempts to codify it systematically." In six intricate essays, the author discusses uses of color by the foremost contemporary artists, composers, philosophers, authors, architects, and psychologists. Excerpts from the writings of such proponents of modernism as Barthes, Derrida, Kandinsky, Stella, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Le Corbusier, Joyce, Pynchon, and Jung, combined with Riley's impressively wide-ranging knowledge, demonstrate the unique and varied perceptions in the field. Throughout, Riley urges his readers to explore the elusive mysteries and powers of color, though the book requires a degree of familiarity with the cited artists and thinkers. Recommended primarily for academic libraries.
Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: UPNE; n Second printing edition (February 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874517427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874517422
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mark Mussari on May 21, 2000
This excellently researched, enlightening book by Riley offers a useful overview of chromatic developments in a number of fields (the person who called this book "cream puffs" misses the point completely). The book offers numerous examples of innovations and commentary on various artists (pictorial and literary) and their colorific tendencies. Connections to theory--from Derrida to Barthes--accompany many of the book's observations. As there is little serious critical work on color, Riley's book offers a useful stepping stone to further research. I would strongly suggest this work to anyone interested in color theory and approach. Riley is a lucid, engaging writer who has made a major contribution to color theory.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1997
Color Codes by Charles A. Riley II is an extraordinary example of inter-disciplinary thought, examining the fascinating topic of color through short essays on Modern and contemporary artists, architects, poets, novelists, psychologists, philosophers, composers and musical performers. Much of the most lively material in the book comes from direct encounters with artists in their studios and interviews. A passionate, ambitious book on a wonderful subject.
Claudine Napoli
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 1998
Reading this book was like being served up a meal of cream puffs -- impressive at first glance, but ultimately unsatisfying due to lack of substance. Like many books that attempt to present the reader with a cafeteria-style synopsis of a subject (a bit of this, a bit of that...) this work is a disappointingly superficial survey of a most difficult and elusive subject. I think John Ruskin said it best: "A great many people do not know green from red; and such kind of persons are apt to feel it their duty to write scientific treatises on color, edifying to the art-world..."
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