Color in Art

John Gage, Kelly Grovier

A wide-ranging and engaging introduction to the place and power of color in life and art by John Gage, author of the award-winning Color and Culture.

The complex phenomenon of color has received detailed attention from the perspectives of physics, chemistry, physiology, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy. However, the people who work most closely with color—artists—have rarely been canvassed for their opinions on this mysterious subject.

John Gage sets out to address this omission by focusing on the thoughts and practices of artists. Color in Art is concerned with the history of color, but is not itself a history; instead each chapter develops a theme from a different scientific discipline, as seen from the viewpoint of such diverse artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, Sonia Delaunay, Bridget Riley, and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Drawing on examples through the ages, from ancient times to the present, the many topics covered include flags, synesthesia, theosophy, theater design, film, chromotherapy, and chromophobia.

Featuring a new foreword by art writer Kelly Grovier outlining contemporary developments in the study of color and an updated bibliography, this new edition of this classic text offers a wide-ranging and engaging introduction to the place and power of color in life and art.


John Gage


John Gage was an acknowledged international authority on the history of art and color, and wrote many books on the subject, including Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism and Color in Art. He was head of the department of history of art at Cambridge University from 1992 to 1995.

Kelly Grovier

Foreword By

Kelly Grovier is a columnist and feature writer for BBC Culture and his writings on art have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, Sunday Times, The Observer, RA Magazine, and Wired. He is the author of several books, including A New Way of Seeing: The History of Art in 57 Works, On the Line: Conversations with Sean Scully, and The Art of Color: The History of Art in 39 Pigments. He is cofounder of the scholarly journal European Romantic Review.