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Le Clair offers a comprehensive look at color for the serious artist. This book is a college course in understanding the various color schemes and how they're affected by other surrounding colors. Each chapter is backed up by terrific color plates representing contemporary artist's work. If you are a painter or work with color, this book is for you. Not a simple "how-to" instructional, but rather an intelligent approach to considering color choices before you apply them. This book is for the artist as well as the teacher.
"Color in Contemporary Painting: Integrating Practice and Theory", while not a traditional art technique book, is still an invaluable reference for practicing artists as well as those interested in contemporary art. Full of high quality reproductions from a wide variety of artists, one can simply skim the book as a source of ideas and things to try without even reading the text. However, the text is very clear, helpful, and readable as it describes the artists' styles, approaches, and use of color. There is no mumbo-jumbo and even the most "art critical" discussions of the artworks are in plain English.The book is organized into 11 sections, the first few of which are introductory and include a perfunctory and adequate description of color theory. LeClair then proceeds through Albers & optical art, color & structure, figure/ground & space, color harmony, gesture, light, expressionism, and what the author calls "advanced color games." Since the book was written in 1991, a few of the discussions about what is "hot" in the contemporary art scene may be out of date as of 2003, yet the book is still relevant and most of the artists discussed are still important today. Perhaps the only thing missing is that there is only an occasional mention of actual pigments used by the painters. A thorough 2-page index makes looking up aritsts, subjects, or painting titles easy. Highly recommended.
I edited this book many years ago and STILL consult it about color questions. (Yeah, I'm an editor, but I used to be an artist--one who, while I was still painting, desperately needed a book like this. And after that, needed it even more when I chose art history as my muse.)
Am I prejudiced toward this book? Yes, of course. For instance, I love Diebenkorn's work and helped choose the painting that graces the cover. And Charles Le Clair, the author, taught me so much, even though we sometimes did battle over his writing quirks (and my editing ones).
I see now, more than a decade after Color in Contemporary Painting was first published, that even though the paintings Charles used to explicate various uses of color are still valid in that context, perhaps a 21st-century update of some kind may be called for. BUT: Really, how much does color use change in major ways that differ from what Charles has presented?
SO: Here is a plea: Suggest some newer examples. I will forward appropriate ones to the publisher.
This outstanding book is a must for painters. Excellent examples illuminate LeClair's text in a way that makes perfect sense for artists. LeClair applies sound color theory to art-making and inspires at the same time. I find it an excellent tool for illustrating color concepts to my university students. It is a comprehensive look at many approaches to the use of color (not a guide, as many books are, to using color in the the same way as their authors). Highly recommended!
I have had this book for approximately 4 years, and it is one that I keep going back to time and time again. High quality art, with wonderful and interesting insite and commentary, this is a must for fans of contemporary art, or for artists themselves. Highly recommended.