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Interaction of Color

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  8,734 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color is a masterwork in twentieth-century art education. Conceived as a handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students, this timeless book presents Albers’s unique ideas of color experimentation in a way that is valuable to specialists as well as to a larger audience.

Originally published by Yale University Press in 1963 as a
Paperback, Revised, Expanded, 160 pages
Published May 15th 2006 by Yale University Press (first published 1971)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Interaction of Color, Josef Albers

In 1963, Josef Albers published Interaction of Color, which is a record of an experiential way of studying and teaching color.

He asserted that color "is almost never seen as it really is" and that "color deceives continually", and he suggested that color is best studied via experience, underpinned by experimentation and observation.

A handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students, this timeless book presents Albers’s unique ideas of color expe
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-odyssey, art, theory
Excellent color theory reference. Highly recommended for anyone in graphic, applied, and fine arts. Much might seem intuitive to a sensitive and attuned individual, but there are exercises that clarify concepts that seem impossible and/or counterintuitive. Engaging and examples are provided to illustrate the concepts.

"A strong challenge to a class is to work with 3 or 4 given colors selected by a teacher or student. This and a continued use of disliked colors will teach that preference and disl
Freyya Quinn
Josef Albers rolls away the color wheel and brings in relational color theory. An example of this is shown on the cover, where one brown looks totally different when placed next to warm or cool tones.

From my years of experience as a picture framer before I read this book I found myself in total agreement with Albers. If the color wheel is memorizing multiplication tables Interaction of Color is doing experimental equations. The color world of Josef Albers is hands on, real, as art is.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: connoisseurs, color theorists

One of the paintings in the series Abstract, by Clare Rojas.
Zolani Stewart
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
The book definitely inspires readers to think more deeply about color, and there are ideas that I found valuable. But overall, it's hard to say that I really got anything from Interaction of Color. There isn't much concrete information that you feel like you're learning and could use. A lot of it is composed of specific examples, but not a helpful base of ideas that one can use to jump into thought and practice with.

Also, it's very text heavy, which is weird for a book about color. There are ex
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of course, I was introduced to the Interaction of Color in art school in the latter 1970s. This is one of the most important works on color theory. I would go so far as to call it mind-altering as it will have some bearing on any work you do after reading it. If you are a young artist, please consider this necessary reading. If you are older, it will be stimulating to your work. I know I should reread it.
Bethany Parker
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot. This made me feel like I was back in undergrad, and I miss the way it feels to learn about things outside of my regular scope of thought. There were many times throughout this novel that I had to look away or stop reading because I was so dumbfounded by the new information I was learning. Our brains are really something else.
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating collection of essays discussing the theories of color, especially color relativity.
I may not be smart enough to get all this, but I really liked the parts about how certain colors together can make us see things differently--even if the change is slight.
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Really cool exploration of color theory from 1963. Still relevant and still engaging. The prose is written in a concise, almost poetic way, and very easy to read. The plates look great, but my only complaint is that in the 50th anniversary edition they should have reorganized the book so you didn't have to keep flipping to the back to see the color plates. ...more
Jul 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Although Albers is the genius of color, his writing is beige. Even informative/expository writings can be entertaining.
Aug 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
You're probably going to need assistance for this book

Josef Albers findings are not related to psychology or cultural values of colors, but they are about techniques and how human eye perceives color. Grasping all there is in this book without help of an instructor is going to be hell of difficult. I have the Fourth printing, 1972 version, which you can find in
The latest Yale University edition might be more suitable for new students, and they have designed an iPad exclusive app for
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
not so much a lecture as it is poetry. My silly graphic arts prof. for my graduate certificates couldn't think of a book to read for the class. I guess instead of being polite, I should have mentioned this. ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
50+ years after its release, this still WOWS. Every color exercise brings a new concept forward. There's an interactive app, too. Combines moving color plates, text and audio for a full surround-sound experience. This book is a gem! ...more
Sara Wong
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read for creatives interested in improving and challenging their sense of colour. It helped explain colour phenomena that I've noticed in real life but struggled to put words to. While much of the book is describing different colour experiments that Albers did with his students, it's still a highly informative read. That said, it might be boring for somebody that is only casually interested in art and design.

The downside to the particular edition that I read (the 1975 pocket edition) is
Tam G
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'll be honest...I think a lot of this went over my head. Even though I read slowly and thoughtfully I often felt there was nuance in the definition of the words (because I'm not an artist and not fluent in German) that went beyond what was being written.

Chapters are deceptively simple and organized for teaching. This is an older book (at least my edition) so the plates are in the back. You have to keep a separate marker for your chapter number and the chapter plates.

Lots of interesting though
Anastasia Karaspiliou
Ok so I have been reading so many books about my university thesis so I added them all to the “read” folder just so that I won’t feel bad… that is the reality, in the summer it was so easy for me to read all day but now because I’m reading so much for university the last thing I want to do is to read another book in my free time.

Now I feel better 😜
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pretty foundational, opened my eyes literally to color effects.
Patrick Stuart
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
(I only gave this 4 out of 5 because I'm a little too dumb for it.)

Two big problems inside the mind, neither of which I really understand.

'Binding' which I think is working out what objects are which, and 'Combination' which is about creating the matrix-like world-view which our little homunculus sits inside while riding the body around.

All of this started because I like Louise Sugdens painting style and because I like Dazzle Patterns on ships, and so I began a small investigation into colour, i
Nathan Maltbia
Aug 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I needed this book for my college level color class. I will undoubtedly continue to use it for reference and guidance.

Josef Albers was a profound artist and color theorist. He seemed to be an odd guy, but I dig it. Albers challenged me in this book to see color for what it is while using it for what it’s not. All at the same time. His gauche works, highlighted within, are nothing but impressive.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: color-theory
This title is really a set of lesson plans for art teachers.
Utilizing an expansive set of student-collected color strips cut from magazines (or a catalog of colored transparencies or even autumn leaves, pressed and laminated), it offers some loose guidelines for teachers to Socratically elicit from the students a growing appreciation of the mutability and subjectiveness of that "most relative of mediums - color."
If you are interested in learning about the interaction of color in a non-classroom
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book would be a great way of introducing students to philosophical questions about color. It's written as a kind of experiment-based lesson plan for an art class on color, but the reader gets the benefit of a bunch of beautiful color plates illustrating Albers's experiments. Albers shows how to make two pieces of the same color paper look like two different colors when placed against different backgrounds, how to make three colors look like two, how to make two different colors look identic ...more
Josef Albers is a brilliant teacher, he provides enough instruction for a student reading the book to explore, but not too much as to prevent them from thinking flexibly about color. His pedagogy for color is also applicable for other aspects of Design. After reading the book, it feels like my eyes have opened up to a whole new world. He draws your attention to the subtle ways that color interact with each other.

I really enjoyed his writing style. He writes poetically and beautifully about colo
Beth Surdut
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Interaction of Color stands out as the one book and class that changed and expanded the way I see and use color. It gave me an appreciation abstract art, which had never resonated for me prior to my participatory immersion in the challenges Albers creates. It also gave me a much deeper understanding of the ways people experience color. This book is a game changer for any artist who physically does all the exercises and has the benefit of seeing and hearing other students' reactions.
NOTE: I was
Doug Mccallum
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not a casual read. It is a textbook that discusses the way we see color and how colors interact with each other when we look at them. It does provide some interesting and useful information for the artist and about how the colors you choose can have a big effect on the overall "feel" of a painting. ...more
Ginny Kestel
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simple, yet profound. Excellent resource on the subject of color and how it interacts with other colors to create illusions. Albers provides the reader with various situations of color based on student studies that involve the reader visually. This exploration of color relativity is a must-read for all artists or anyone interested in the amazing world of color.
Erika Mulvenna
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
I have no idea how I got through two Fine Arts degrees without having read this book! After studying several other color theory books, this is by far my favorite for giving practical color assignments to learn more about color and to fine-tune your color perception.
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
great book on color theory
Nate D
Nov 22, 2019 marked it as read-in-2019
Shelves: art
Colors are way too complicated for me to be allowed to use it without much more study, clearly.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Interaction of Color is comprised of two halves. The first half of the book contains the main text and is printed in black and white. The second half consists of color “plates” which showcase specific examples from the main text, along with some supplementary text of its own. This format requires keeping two bookmarks—one for your position in the reading, and one for the corresponding illustrations some 100 pages later. For a book devoted to the study of color, this is baffling and mildly infuri ...more
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Josef Albers was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of modern art education programs of the twentieth century.

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