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

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The subtitle clearly delineates the subject matter of this important book on the subjectivity of color sense and theories thereof, from the late 19th century to the present . . . [Riley] stresses the relatively independent development of color ideas among the theorists chosen, speaking of interrelations usually only where they have some historical or conceptual validity; and he does so in a clear, intelligible style.” —Choice


“Riley's richly rewarding scholarly study explores the multiple meanings of color.” —Publishers Weekly


“In six intricate essays, the author discusses uses of color by the foremost contemporary artists, composers, philosophers, authors, architects, and psychologists . . . Riley's impressively wide-ranging knowledge demonstrate[s] the unique and varied perceptions in the field.”—Library Journal

Review

“A captivating book. Rich in information and graceful in its prose, I know of no other book on the subject with this kind of encyclopedic breadth. The vast amount of detail is handled with an ease that belies the years of research that must have gone into this project.” (Wendy Steiner, author of The Scandal of Pleasure)

“A tour de force . . . Color Codes is in a class by itself.” (C. L. Hardin, author of Color for Philosophers)

“In his wonderful book, Charles Riley makes color more graspable, more at hand than ever before. At the same time he enhances, indeed, seems to fuel our appreciation of the excitement of color.” (Frank Stella, artist and author of Working Space)
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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: 6 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Verified Purchase
DISCLAIMER: I'm only 33-50% through this book, but am finding it hard to continue, so I thought I would leave my review here before I forget.

Positive:
- Wow, what a mammoth project. Many philosophers, artists, and other professionals have written about color, and Riley manages to organize many, if not all, of the most important works on color in this book.
- Decent summary and reflection on the many different theories, and attributes to each the appropriate amount of influence they/their authors had.
- Riley's perspective on color and their systems/schema/palettes is SPOT on, and I find his discussion on it invaluable to my own endeavors.
- Pleasant prose (with one caveat that I mention below).

Neutral:
- The overall amount and breadth of information is very wide. As one viewer sort of implied, it is a bit like a buffet of information.

Negatives:
- The writing can be just a bit wordy at times, as if each sentence was a room that just needed a bit of sweeping done to look truly clean. I felt as though (in one too many sentences) I had to decipher his meaning through some form of exaggeration or otherwise ill-fitting word. It's hard to tell whether this is preference or reading ability, but it is what it is, and I'm finding it hard to get through on some days.

Ultimately, I would tell Riley that he has created a success. While I've only read about half the book, I've so far found exactly what I was looking for - an overwhelming introduction to color theory and a springboard to the many different sources from which it arises. If you came here looking for anything but an intensely researched overview of color theory, well, I would say you got what you deserved. You're not going to grasp color theory itself by reading this book, nor should you expect to, as color theory in a somewhat official sense is nearly 400 years old with a large number of works written on the topic.
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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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