The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color 1st Edition

20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 072-3812289288
ISBN-10: 0471289280
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Hardcover, December, 1997
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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

What would the world be without color? A dull, joyless melange of shapes without vital meaning. "Color is life, for a world without color seems dead. As a flame produces light, light produces color. As intonation lends color to the spoken word, color lends spiritually realized sound to form." - Johannes Itten. Over the years numerous color theories have been published: Goethe's theory of color is as famous as Ostwald's color cirlce. Adolf Holzel exercised an important influence on modern art with his theory of color. Now with his ART OF COLOR Johannes Itten makes a contribution. Using Holzel's theory as a springboard, Itten has expanded and developed it along his own original lines. Although never published before, the Itten theory already underlies progressive art education all over the world. In this book Itten examines two different approaches to understanding the art of color. Subjective feelings and objective color principles are the two poles which are described in detail and clarified with numerous color reproductions. The key to this knowledge lies in the color circle and the seven color contrasts which are found on pages 35-109. The problems of visual, emotional and symbolic color effects are carefully explored with numerous color illustrations. The systematic color exercises are followed by outstanding reproductions of paintings by the great masters - 28 large size, four-color plates - which offer insight into all the epochs of Western painting from the early Middle Ages to Klee and Picasso. With each reproduction is one of Professor Itten's famous analyses which proves how conscious awareness and use of color contrast has been an important means of expression. In the chapter, THEORY OF COLOR EXPRESSION (page 130), the psychic and emotional values expressed by color are examined and explained. This gives an extraordinary approach to the understanding of expressionistic painting. Another important chapter, COMPOSITION (page 144), contains the goal of the whole theory of color for the creative artist. It also represents the crowning point of the book for the viewer of art. According to Itten composition implies brining two or more colors together in such a way that they harmonize to give an expression unambiguous and full of character. When preparing the first printing of THE ART OF COLOR in 1960, author and publisher were faced with the problem of finding the most favorable method of producing the difficult color reproductions. It could only be done by producing the various color plates by entirely different printing processes, which had to be done by several printers, and then tipping them into the book.

When a reprinting was planned in 1973, it had by then become possible to make use of the advanced technical developments in offset printing, and the entire book was produced by this printing process. Altogether great care was taken to preserve the excellence of the original edition, Contents and order of pages were retained, some of the illustrations were enlarged and veracity was improved as far as the existing material allowed. Our aim for this new printing was to once again make available in its best form Johannes Itten's color course, while at the same time strictly adhering to his principles of presentation.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (December 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471289280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471289289
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 0.9 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Chris Matthews on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What fascinates me so much about Itten's classic book is its deeply philosophical, even quasi-religious approach to color. Itten was as much interested in the spirituality of color as in developing a theory of color.
Another great aspect of the book is the numerous master paintings beautifully reproduced and intertwined with his own theories and color diagrams. You get paintings by Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, El Greco, Seurat, and so many others. Itten is always contrasting the objective and the subjective aspects of art and color, and it makes for a fascinating reading experience.
Itten has a mature perspective on these painters and their relation to color. Its only flaw is that Itten's is only one perspective. I wish there were more authors who could write and analyze art at this level, and who weren't afraid to be spiritual in their assessments.
With so many dramatic advancements in technology, we tend to forget very quickly where we were. Just a decade or so ago, this book was literally too difficult and too expensive to produce. We are lucky to live in an age in which a book of such profound beauty is even available. Overall, it's a must for any fine library.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Carla de Pagter on June 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book of Johannes Itten is a good example of the use of colour in the antroposofic way. He connects the different colours with moods and feelings, religious symbols and even gives it a spiritual dimension. For me it was an eye-opener on the aspect of harmony. Itten emphasizes that the eye and mind are always looking for balance, harmony in the sense of a grey-tone. If a work of art does not reflect this kind of harmony, for instance because of a distonality in the use of colours, the eye and mind get restless and agitated. But if used on purpose this aspect of colour gives a work of art a very strong impact and makes it a masterpiece.[...].
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Anyone interested in the color theory and its applicance on art should seriously consider this book. Everything explained is illustrated by high quality examples and samples from different artists' work; definitely made me happy.
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59 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Shahr Yar on August 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd studied physiology and neuroscience, later switching careers from a medical path to that of a designer. I've dived into many sources for my self-education/training. Itten is the grand-master of color; no other book I've read compares to those of Itten. His teachings have enlightened me in ways that I'm amazed by, touching on scientific, psychological, behavioral, and the most personal aspects of color as a study and an experience. It's changed the way I look at my environment, and it's changing the way I use color in my work as a designer.
I'm so impressed with the value this book has had to me, that I bought Itten's book on Form and Design, even though I didn't necessarily feel lacking on those aspects of design. It's rather because of the likelihood in the quality and richenss of knowledge I'll gain, as I did from this book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Judith E. Moore on February 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an artist who uses color in my work, this book has been invaluable. The color wheel has always been my primary reference for color combinations; however, since reading Johannes Itten book, an entirely new world of understanding and enlightenment has evolved. I love this book for how it has enriched my knowledge and passion for color.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Real Wake Up Call on March 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We have both the original printing (1961) and the later printing (1973). The later printing fails to do justice to Itten's principles. The colours in the colour wheel are quite different in the two printings and in terms of principles of colour interaction the colours in the original (1961) printing are far superior. Our rating of 5 stars applies to the 1961 printing.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Andrew A. Gill on October 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Art of Color describes seven innate contrasts in color, giving special significance to Simultaneous Contrast. Further, Itten describes the psychological effects of color, the analogous shapes to each color, drops the names of several color theorists which can be used for a jumping off point for further study, provides several exercises for the reader, and gives eye-opening analyses of a wide variety of paintings, from Rembrandt to Seurat to van Gogh to Mondrian.

The text is not perfect, and suffers from deficiencies stemming from the fact that color was not as well understood when Itten was developing these theories. The primary colors are described as red, yellow, blue, instead of the red, green, blue (and complements cyan, magenta, yellow) that we know today.

Another deficiency is a striking lack of several color effects described in other contemporary texts on color theory, such as the Bezold effect, vibrating colors, and the Weber-Fechner law.

Still, this text is not to be missed. It is probably the most comprehensive text on color that is not written from a purely technical standpoint.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nick Taylor on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Just a comment for reviewer "Brad". Itten's book on colour is a classic. But it is the book he wrote circa 1970, not this one written in 1997.

I think what you were seeking was either "Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten Based on His Book by Johannes Itten; (Editor) Faber Birren (1970)"

or possibly "Elements of Color by Johannes Itten (Dec 31, 1990)
(16 customer reviews)"
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