Beautiful, sunny book this one, On Color by David Scott Kastan with Stephen Farthing published by Yale University Press.
It's a quick, funny, interesting reading, plenty of curiosities and in grade to space in various disciplines for describing colors, and their meaning in our society and at first for also define color and the meaning of it.
We will discover that sometimes colors are just human perceptions, and that orange became orange just when oranges, yes the fruits started to be imported in Europe. In the past it didn't have a proper name the so-called yellow-red.
Green is the color of environmentalists, green parties and movements all devoted to the protection of nature, environment, animals, but we will also understand that maybe old Greek people couldn't see like us some colors and that is why Homer when described certain scenes in his epic works wasn't in grade to give a realistic portrait of them.
Not only: if we can distinguish just few colors, did you know that pigeons' vision is much better than our ones and that Indigo, as a color became the one we know thanks to Newton? In the past indigo was used for the blue, but then it became at all effects an independent color with its own dignity.
Blue is considered the spiritual color for excellence, but there are other surprises...It can be the color of depressed people.
The example the one of Picasso who painted The Tragedy, where an entire family, maybe after a disgrace, is desolated, alone, surrounded by solitude and discomfort. All the painting in frustrating tonalities of blues.
The solitude, terror, and inability of reaction of the adults is broken only by the hand of the son of this couple, who touching the leg of his dad in search of comfort, of a human comfort, opening his other arm, seems to ask him an explanation for this interior devastating hole.
"What happened?" It seems to ask him.
But, no one of the adults, closed in their crossed hands, thoughts, and shock, gives him any explanation because the sufferance is too much and can't be described. The calm sea and the sky are like a final sad hug, a melancholic homogeneous blanket created by nature for this little family.
With color yellow the authors will start a digression about the so-called "yellow people" baptized in this way by Europeans travelers: Chinese, Japanese ones. The digressioncontinues with an interesting and important topic about races, what it means color, and why when we speak of colored" people" in general these words are read under a negative aspect, and how to act against these prejudices.
Violet is the color of Impressionism, of Monet and Manet. Manet wrote once that everyone would have painted in violet in the future. Less strong than purple, pretty, delicate, relaxing this one was "the shock of the new," apported by the Impressionists: the massively introduction of a color that in the past was not taken at all in great consideration; but after all, what Impressionists did was to paint outdoor, so to try to capture the magic of a minute or two, when the light was perfect as also the color that they wanted to impress in their canvas. A story of few minutes and the scenario would have been gone forever.
Interesting also black, white and gray.
Gray...Enjoy a chapter in...pictures, the color of pictures, the color of past.
White captured the attention of the writers with a literary classics like Moby Dick by Melville is. Ahab, the white whale and their strenuous fight for winning.
Who knows? Maybe it was because of this peculiarity, the white color the main reason why Ahab insisted at long for capture this whale. Maybe if this whale was common he wouldn't never have sacrificed time and life for searching for her. The While Whale.
But white is also the purity of a poor lamb captured and killed at Easter's time and a lot more.
Black is adorably represented by an elegant Audrey Hepburn wearing her little black dress, launched, thanks to the movie: Breakfast at Tiffany's. Black became a symbol of fashion starting from the beginning of 1900s and not seen anymore just as the color of funerals or the color of a period of mourning or, again, the color preferred by melancholic people.
Elegant, if you wear a little black dress you don't need anything else.
We will also understand that we see colors also when we close our eyes, or that our perception of them can changes with the time or that maybe we are born without the proper vision of all the spectrum of colors that commonly we should see and that anyway seeing a color is mainly a perception.
Enjoy this colored, beautiful, sunny book. Once you will have read it, you'll see colors around you under a different... perspective.
I thank Yale University Press for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori