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The Book of Colour Concepts

The Book of Colour Concepts


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From the 17th century to the advent of the digital age, color theories have been illustrated with opulent wheels, polychrome charts, and meticulous diagrams. Gathering over 65 works from around the world, with more than 1,000 images, this edition traces the many hues of a subject that inspired Newton, Goethe, Sanzō Wada, the Bauhaus, and many more.
The earliest forms of human creativity – in carvings, markings, and cave paintings – bear witness to humanity’s engagement with color. Almost as old as these examples is the desire to assign structure, order, and meaning to this universal yet elusive concept, and it is this fascination that unites the works compiled in this expansive edition.

Containing over 65 rare books and manuscripts from various institutions, including esteemed color collections around the world, The Book of Colour Concepts offers a comprehensive exploration of color over four centuries through 1,000 stunning images of intricate wheels and globes, detailed charts, and precise diagrams. Many of these visuals have been newly photographed for this edition, providing an exclusive look into color concepts. From exhaustive taxonomies to reflections on color and music and the connections between color and human emotions, this book is an informative and objective guide.

Notable color theory texts like Opticks by Isaac Newton and Zur Farbenlehre by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are presented alongside lesser-known works like the theosophical color systems of Charles Webster Leadbeater and Annie Besant, the comprehensive color dictionary of Aloys John Maerz and Morris Rea Paul, and the patchwork combinations of Japanese costume designer and artist Sanzō Wada.

Both volumes also showcase a number of captivating and frequently disregarded pieces by female artists, such as Mary Gartside's revolutionary use of "blots" for painting flowers and Hilma af Klint's botanical notebook, a pioneering work in the realm of spiritualism.

Editor Alexandra Loske and co-author Sarah Lowengard provide introductory essays contextualizing the color systems in this edition. The works are accompanied by authoritative texts from the editor, offering detailed explanations of each concept. Through this, The Book of Colour Concepts offers an unparalleled chromatic chronology, illuminating the history of color in all its forms.

  • Product Type: Book, Hardcover in two volumes, with slipcase
  • 846 pages, with 1000 illustrations
  • Published in 2024
  • Shipping Dimensions: 12.0 × 9.6 × 4.25 inches  (30.5 × 24.4 × 10.8 cm)
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 lb (217.6 oz; 6169 g)
  • SKU010011717 | 9783836595650

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About the Author

Sarah Lowengard

Sarah Lowengard is a historian of technology and science who writes about practical and philosophical engagements with colour. A practicing art conservator for more than 40 years and an artisan colour-maker for even longer, Lowengard is a member of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union in New York City, and maintains affiliation with several technical art history and analytical art organizations in the United States and abroad.

About the Editor

Alexandra Loske

Alexandra Loske is a British-German art historian, writer, and museum curator, with a particular interest in the role of women in the history of colour. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Sussex, and is currently Curator of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Loske has lectured and been published widely on colour and other topics, and has curated a number of exhibitions, including "Regency Colour and Beyond, 1785-1845" at the Royal Pavilion in 2014.


About the Publisher


For more than 40 years, Taschen has published high-quality art books. Whether in lavishly produced editions for collectors with nearly limitless budgets, or more compact editions with much more gentle price tags, Taschen never compromises on quality. Watch this video to learn more about how Taschen books are made.

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