Colours on the edge

A book by Charles A Riley,  Colour Codes, Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music and Psychology, 1995 New England Press.

Goethe’s theory of colours:
‘If there is phenomenological core to Goethe’s text, it is the faith in a permanent physical basis of colour that, by contrast with Newton’s emphasis on white light, arises out of a grey shadow. Goethe’s theory is dominated by the sense of dark tonalities and shadows…”Shadow is the proper element of colour, and in this case a subdued colour approaches it, lighting up, tingeing, and enlivening it” (p.236) Instead of working with colours at their full strength in bright illumination, he preferred experiences that caught colour at the very threshold of its manifestation, liminal or edge phenomena…’ p.22

The Poet of Black, Adorno:


‘For Adorno, the blackness of contemporary art and philosophy is not just a symbol of mourning. It is also aesthetic, accentuating the awareness of an edge between sense and emptiness, the being of an artwork and nonbeing itself. Like many of the philosophical approaches to colour, it links ontology and creativity. Adorno’s articulation of this theme relates it directly to the function and significance of the colour black: “Along with the impoverishment of means brought on by the ideal of the black, if not by functionalist matter-of-factness, we also notice an impoverishment of the creations of poetry, painting and music themselves. On the verge of silence, the most advanced forms of art have sensed the force of this tendency” p. 56

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