Color Charts: A History (Hardcover)

Color Charts: A History By Anne Varichon, Kate Deimling (Translator) Cover Image

Color Charts: A History (Hardcover)

By Anne Varichon, Kate Deimling (Translator)


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A beautifully illustrated history of the many inventive, poetic, and alluring ways in which color swatches have been selected and staged

The need to categorize and communicate color has mobilized practitioners and scholars for centuries. Color Charts describes the many different methods and ingenious devices developed since the fifteenth century by doctors, naturalists, dyers, and painters to catalog fragments of colors. With the advent of industrial society, manufacturers and merchants developed some of the most beautiful and varied tools ever designed to present all the available colors. Thanks to them, society has discovered the abundance of color embodied in a plethora of materials: cuts of fabric, leather, paper, and rubber; slats of wood and linoleum; delicate skeins of silk; careful deposits of paint and pastels; fragments of lipstick; and arrangements of flower petals. These samples shape a visual culture and a chromatic vocabulary and instill a deep desire for color.

Anne Varichon traces the emergence of modern color charts from a set of processes developed over the centuries in various contexts. She presents illuminating examples that bring this remarkable story to life, from ancient writings revealing attention to precise shade to contemporary designers' color charts, dyers' notebooks, and Werner's famous color nomenclature. Varichon argues that color charts have linked generations of artists, artisans, scientists, industrialists, and merchants, and have played an essential and enduring role in the way societies think about color.

Drawing on nearly two hundred documents from public and private collections, almost all of them previously unpublished, this wonderfully illustrated book shows how the color chart, in its many distinct forms and expressions, is a practical tool that has transcended its original purpose to become an educational aid and subject of contemplation worthy of being studied and admired.
Anne Varichon is an anthropologist specializing in material cultures and ideas about color. She is the author of Colors: What They Mean and How to Make Them.
Product Details ISBN: 9780691255170
ISBN-10: 0691255172
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 284
Language: English