Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Interaction of Color

Rate this book
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 limited silkscreen edition with 150 color plates, Interaction of Color first appeared in paperback in 1971, featuring ten representative color studies chosen by Albers. The paperback has remained in print ever since and is one of the most influential resources on color for countless readers.

This new paperback edition presents a significantly expanded selection of more than thirty color studies alongside Albers’s original unabridged text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusions of transparency and reversed grounds. Now available in a larger format and with enhanced production values, this expanded edition celebrates the unique authority of Albers’s contribution to color theory and brings the artist’s iconic study to an eager new generation of readers.

160 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1971

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Josef Albers

85 books87 followers
Simple geometric patterns of various colors characterize works, such as the series Homage to the Square (1950-1959), of German-born American painter Josef Albers.

This artist and educator in Europe and the United States formed the basis of modern programs of the 20th century.


Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,817 (45%)
4 stars
2,883 (27%)
3 stars
1,787 (17%)
2 stars
610 (5%)
1 star
390 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 211 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
August 6, 2021
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 experimentation in a way that is valuable to specialists as well as to a larger audience.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز پنجم ماه آگوست سال 2010میلادی

عنوان: ت‍اث‍ی‍ر م‍ت‍ق‍اب‍ل‌ رن‍گ‍ه‍ا: م‍ت‍ن‌ چ‍اپ‌ اص‍ل‍ی‌ ب‍ا چ‍ن‍د ل‍وح‌ ان‍ت‍خ‍اب‍ی‌؛ ج‍وزف‌ آل‍ب‍رز (آلبرس)؛ مت‍رج‍م ع‍رب‍ع‍ل‍ی‌ ش‍روه‌؛ تهران، نشر نی، 1368، در 113ص و 8ص؛ مصور، نمودار، عنوان روی جلد: ت‍اث‍ی‍ر م‍ت‍ق‍اب‍ل‌ رن‍گ‍ه‍ا: م‍طال‍ع‍ات‌ ت‍ج‍رب‍ی‌ در زم‍ی‍ن‍ه‌ ش‍ن‍اخ‍ت‌ رن‍گ‌ و ک‍ارب‍رد آن‌ در ن‍ق‍اش‍ی‌، گ‍راف‍ی‍ک‌ و چ‍اپ‌؛ چاپ دوم سال 1371؛ چاپ سوم سال 1388؛ در 192ص؛ شابک 9789641851080؛ موضوع نوشتارهای نویسندگان آلمانی تبار ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

فهرست: «پیش گفتار مترجم»؛ «مقدمه»، «پیش گفتار»؛ «به خاطر آوری رنگ - حافظه بصری»؛ «خواندن رنگ و همبافت»؛ «چرا به جای ماده رنگی کاغذ رنگی؟»؛ «رنگ چهره های گوناگون دارد - نسبیت رنگ»؛ «تیره تر یا روشنتر - شدت روشنی»، «مطالعات درجه بندیها - ارائه هایی جدید»؛ «شدت رنگ - درخشندگی»؛ «یک رنگ با دو چهره - شباهت داشتن به زمینه معکوس»؛ «همانند به نظر رسیدن دو رنگ مختلف، تفریق رنگ»؛ «چرا خطای رنگ؟ - پس انگاره کنتراست همزمانی»؛ «آمیختن رنگ با کاغذ رنگی - شفافیت مجازی»؛ «آمیخته های حقیقی - افزایشی و کاهشی»؛ «شفافیت و فضای مجازی - مرزهای رنگ و عمل حجم پذیری»؛ «آمیخته ی بصری - بررسی دوباره پس انگاره»؛ «پدیده بتسولد؛ فواصل رنگی و انتقال آنها»؛ «بار دیگر آمیخته میانی - تقاطع رنگها»؛ «کنار هم قرار گرفتن رنگها - هماهنگی و کمیت»؛ «فیلم رنگ و حجم رنگ - دو نمود طبیعی»؛ «مطالعات آزاد - نوارهای کاغذی در کنار هم قرار دادن آنها به صورتی محدود»؛ «استادان - سازبندی»؛ «قانون وبر - فچنر - اندازه ترکیب»؛ «از گرمای رنگ تا رطوبت آن»؛ «مرزهای لرزان - لبه های تقویت شده»؛ «شدت روشنایی برابر - مرزهای محو»؛ «نظریه های رنگی - دستگاههای رنگ»؛ «درباره آموزش رنگ - چند اصطلاح مربوط به رنگ»؛ «واریانت در مقابل واریته»؛ «به جای کتابنامه»؛ «لوح ها و تفسیرها»؛ «شفافیت و فضای مجازی»؛ «آمیخته بصری بتسولد»؛ «فواصل رنگی و انتقال آنها»؛ «تاثیر متقابل یا تقاطع»؛ «کمیت»؛ «سطح رنگ»؛ «مطالعات آزاد»؛ «قانون وبر فچنر»؛ «»؛ سرد و گرم»؛ «مرزهای رنگی»؛ «روشنی برابری»؛ «نظریه های رنگ»؛ «مطالعه برگ»؛ «واژه نامه»؛

در دریافت بصری معمولا یک رنگ آنطور که از نظر فیزیکی هست دیده نمیشود؛ همین حقیقت سبب میشود که رنگ نسبیترین عنصر در نقاشی باشد؛ برای اینکه رنگ را به صورتی موثر مورد استفاده قرار دهیم، لازم است بدانیم که رنگ همواره فریب میدهد؛ در وهلة اول بایست پی ببریم که چگونه یک رنگ واحد میتواند ظواهر و نمودهای بیشماری به خود بگیرد؛ به جای اینکه قوانین هماهنگی رنگ را به صورت مکانیکی به کار ببندیم، بایستی ظواهر و نمودهای مشخص رنگ را از راه شناخت تاثیر متقابل آنها به وجود آوریم؛ نگارنده در این کتاب روش تجربی را در مطالعه ی رنگ و آموزش آن بیان میدارند و مطالبی از این دست ارائه مینمایند: (خواندن رنگ و همبافت؛ رنگ چهره های گوناگونی دارد نسبیت رنگ؛ شدت رنگ درخشندگی؛ شفافیت و فضای مجازی؛ مرزهای رنگ و عمل حجم پذیری؛ عوامل رنگی و انتقال آنها؛ نظریه های رنگی دستگاه های رنگ و لوحها و تفسیر آنها.)؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 14/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,847 reviews399 followers
July 9, 2018
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 dislike--as in life so with color --usually result from prejudices, from lack of experience and insight."
April 6, 2013
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 examples in the back with accompanying paragraphs, which I honestly found more helpful than the main text, which can feel cluttered and boring. Many examples want you to go out and use color paper. I'd much rather have the book give me the examples itself.

Recommend if you're intrigued.
Profile Image for Lady Selene.
414 reviews26 followers
March 24, 2023
I can't say I followed everything here, however, the purpose would be to stimulate a reading of the concept of Colour and to encourage analysis of our associations with Colour. A curious little read, left me with more questions than answers.
Profile Image for Karen.
367 reviews26 followers
February 23, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Liz.
289 reviews1 follower
July 8, 2020
Although Albers is the genius of color, his writing is beige. Even informative/expository writings can be entertaining.
Profile Image for Bahadoran.
30 reviews8 followers
August 27, 2021
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 archive.org
The latest Yale University edition might be more suitable for new students, and they have designed an iPad exclusive app for it which can be helpful too.
I would not recommend this book. Mr. Albers has done an excellent job and his findings has revolutionized the design curriculum, but you probably have learned some of it from different sources by now, and you can find several useful videos on YouTube that teach you what you need to know from this book. Also, there is a complementary PDF from Dick Nelson that was far more easy to grasp and with similar trial and error approach that Josef Albers used.
Profile Image for Bethany Parker.
254 reviews18 followers
September 23, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Sharon Barrow Wilfong.
1,117 reviews3,946 followers
July 29, 2020
Fascinating collection of essays discussing the theories of color, especially color relativity.
Profile Image for Alp Turgut.
405 reviews126 followers
March 10, 2022
Renklerin kullanımını ve kullanılma şekillerine göre yarattığı etkiyi uygulamalı örneklerle anlatan "Interaction of Color", tasarımla ilgilenenlerin mutlaka göz atması gereken güzel bir eser. Kısa gibi gözükse de detaylı inceleme gerektiren örnekleriyle adeta bir deneyim yaratan kitap, özellikle renk kullanımı içeren tasarım süreçlerinde defalarca ele alınacak kaynaklardan biri.

Londra, Birleşik Krallık

Alp Turgut
Profile Image for Rachel.
407 reviews62 followers
December 15, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Helena.
41 reviews
January 18, 2022
värvivõlu! kõikidele, keda huvitavad värvid ja optilised illusioonid. mul läks kuidagi tagurpidi selle raamatuga: tegin osasid praktilisi harjutusi juba 7–8 aastat tagasi, nüüd lõpuks sain teooria ka sinna kõrvale.
Profile Image for Leslie Liu.
29 reviews
April 26, 2015
色彩互動學 -Interaction of Colors







其實我覺得講述色彩互動,很難透過平面文字書籍產生共鳴,因為將文字轉換為圖像,需經過認知消耗,且違背直覺,正所謂”A picture is worth a thousand words.” 。看前半段有點辛苦,但到了後半段就一切豁然開朗。因為後面就是搭配優異的實驗作品。


Profile Image for maltbia_.
15 reviews
August 24, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Nico.
57 reviews
September 17, 2009
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.
22 reviews2 followers
February 5, 2014
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!
Profile Image for Tam G.
444 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2018
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 thoughts about the flexibility of color. Color is not a constant. This book is full of color experiments which show how color is influenced by its neighbors.
Profile Image for Dominika Žáková.
140 reviews446 followers
July 27, 2017
Najhutnejšia a pre mňa i najpodnetnejšia kniha o téme, ktorú ťažko zachytiť slovami, keďže sa venuje tomu najrelatívnejšieho zrakového vnemu- farbe. Žiadne vágne teórie, "iba" cvičenia v pozorovaní jednotlivých farebných situácií. Nabáda k citlivejšiemu vnímaniu a následnej analýze a je skvelým pomocníkom pre učiteľov i študentov výtvarných umení
Profile Image for Anastasia Karaspiliou.
15 reviews5 followers
October 17, 2021
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 😜
August 12, 2022
Without a doubt, Interaction of Color is still an incredibly influential book when teaching color to students. Even today, the book's look at color is still engaging and radical. There is no color wheel, the terms warm and cool are not assigned to specific colors, and the juxtaposition of colors next to each other can be deceiving to the eyes. Although it would probably have a larger impact with a lecture (which can be found online) than essentially reading instructions for a teacher, it is still worthwhile. Some chapters go away from the technical instructions to rather poetic and passionate observations of color in the world around us. Looking at the plates with commentary sets forth the ideas Albers demonstrates and explains throughout like seeing after image effects to colors and shapes revealing their interactions with each other.
Profile Image for Melyssa.
23 reviews
March 19, 2022
Fascinating, encouraging, and fun look at color. Makes you throw out/question everything you think you know about color which I believe is the point.
Profile Image for shmump.
9 reviews
June 29, 2022
Brown is just a shade of orange
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Patrick Stuart.
Author 16 books135 followers
July 23, 2020
(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, in particular, into colour and mass/shape...

After all, it’s only trying to understand how colour works, and how that combines with our sensation and understanding of mass.. how hard can it be?

Answer - INFINITELY HARD, for the very question opens the doorway to a crystalline dungeon of PRISMATIC MYSTERIES.

The search has taken me through Neurobiology (We Know It When We See It by Richard Masland), Ship Camouflage in WWI (Dazzle - disguise and disruption in war and art by James Taylor), and a deep cut into colour as used by artists (Interaction of Colour by Josef Albers).

We can also possibly add 'Through the Language Glass' by Guy Deushter, about a mild Sapier-Whorff effect in language and colour.


or just the most obviously relative?

So many scientists, art teachers, philosophers, messing around with coloured thread, coloured sheets of paper, swatches of colour, showing them to people of different nations, in classrooms, in laboratories, to rabbits while a hole has been drilled in their skulls to let the electrodes in, sailing around looking for rare islanders so you can show them the colours and write down what they say. More flags, shining lights, patterns of shade and texture.

Albers would remind us that our understanding of all these colours is massively shaped by context, types of light, (electric, dawn, dusk, passing clouds, albedo), by the arrangement of colours around and within each other, one colour on another, next to another, torn edges, straight edges, curly shapes, blocky shapes, texture on flat and so on and so on, so that he might regard these neurologists and cultural analysts running around as quite mad and pointless.

ALBERS - The most curious and unique of the minds I have witnessed through text. A man with the very tight, intense, highly disciplined brain of a laboratory scientist, a careful, systematic and procedural method to his teaching (learning about colour is *not about self-expression!*). And yet, with the least scientific aim and probably the greatest scepticism towards the systemising, totalising goal of science.

Albers is learning and teaching his students, through the medium of relentless attention and careful systematic analysis, about something he believes is very, very, highly relative. Fluid within perception and within the mind, to the extent that considering colour outside of its context, as an isolated quality, I think to him that would be utterly insane, since that is something it can never be.

Is it really the most relative of sensations? I think probably it is not, but that it is the most *observably relative* because it comes to us always alongside shape, objects and *DIVIDING LINES*, and I think the secret to the perceived relativity of colour is not that it is more relative than touch, smell or sound, but that it is more relative than objects and lines.

The mind is Binding and Combining the shapes of objects and dividing lines between things ("edge detection") all the time, and however it is doing this (we still don't really know), it seems to me that shapes, objects and lines are a lot less relative and debateable (both within the mind and beyond it) than the colours which always are sensed with and alongside them.

We might not all be seeing the same colours, and we can be certain, that in different lights and different times of day, things which register as always having the same colour in our minds, in fact have quite different colours, and that our brain is clearly fudging the issue, but *in comparison* to colour, we can be much more certain that the lines, shapes and objects we perceive, are both coherent to themselves and coherent when discussed and compared between individuals.

"That big rock, is it more yellow or green would you say?"

and never

"That big yellow-green thing, rock or sponge, would you say?"

And it is this, the evidently-relative-relativity, if you will excuse an awful phrase, which makes colour more obviously relative than sound or touch, because it lives along side and is always contrasted with, shape and line, which is very much less relative (probably more dominant, earlier maybe, in the binding & combining process).


It’s likely. If it’s not exactly the same it’s probably pretty similar, unless you are at the far end of the curve, and most crucially, as Albers would tell you, IT DOESN'T MATTER!

For colour is REALIVE and exists only relative to its context and therefore all that truly matters is if what you see as blue has the same relative relation to what you see as red green etc as everyone else which it probably does (though maybe not entirely).


While I know nothing about any of this I know even less about this part so beware, but it seems to me that vision and in particular the binding and combining of colour and form, and many colours, gives us access to a kind of island of no-time within our own minds.

As Albers would tell us, and here I'll bring in Ian McGilchrist of "The Master and His Emissary", sound is sequential, it can only happen in a row of information (though different sounds can be combined at the same time), touch is a bit less sequential, you can tough something with different bits of yourself, or be touched at once. Movement has a 'moment of movement' but is quite largely sequential, it happens in a row but vision, and the sensing of colour and shape, am I wrong in thinking that it has the least sequential elements?

McGilchrist would say that one part of the mind senses and 'sees' everything in one big burst and the other scans and sequentialises, so maybe sight, vision, has the most complex experience of time within the mind.

When I imagine the binding/combining process, I imagine something with a 'loose moment', a kind of drifting, or indistinct sense of the 'now'. The mind sees, absorbs, identifies, arranges and understands, all happening together. The big blurt of information from the all-at-once scan, the rapid sequential object scanning, the binding and combining shape colour, shade, light, fluid integration and re-integration with the imagined and re-constructed mind-state, both what 'just happened' (the part that makes us think the rabbit is still inside the hat) and the 'about to happen' (that lets tennis stars work out where the ball is *going to be*, all of this, binding and combining, looping and feeding back, continually, whenever our eyes are open.

And so, within the mechanisms of vision are many mutual but simultaneous *perceptions of time*. sequential, global, memory looking back and imagination/modelling looking forward, all happening "at once". The experience of vision is like a kind of time machine, a timeless, or looped moment within ourselves, which we can dip into and experience, slightly, a more or less time-powered moment, variations on what 'now' is.


Perhaps this presentiment of the complex nature of consciousness, vision, time, self awareness, is why when I reach certain points of Albers book, Maslands book and McGilchrists, I get a kind of giddy feeling. That feeling when you are just on the borders of a great idea, the moment before something complex, difficult and indistinct synthesises inside your mind into a coherent whole.

This might just be the borders of my own stupidity.

Or am I pressing against the edge of REALITY ITSELF????


Probably not really no.

Masland is pop-sci and at the deeper end I struggle.

Albers, god damn fucking Germanic Albers. First its a book of experiments really, that you are meant to perform, and I didn't. Didn't have the right stuff, time or will. And second he writes in this bloody art-school Germanic hyper-clear style, which because it is hyper clear and has only the correct info in it
is fucking hard to get through. There is no pulse of info/blather for you brain to take a moment to recombine, instead its infoinfoinfoinfo.

Its one of the most interesting books on colour that I have ever read, but again, I found it a struggle, especially towards the end. There were effects and ideas that I found it hard to perceive, model and consider, and so I ended up somewhat, sweeping over the words in a fearful rush. Back in secondary school maths again! fuck!


God fucking damn it brain, why you have to be so complex. All I wanted to understand was colour and mass.

Well, good news. Brain works out what shape and mass things are about 20 different ways at once. Edge detection and memory probably the most simple, though they exist at different ends of the binding/combining process (probably, we don't really know, and as I theorised above, 'different ends' likely doesn't make much sense in a temporarily fluid process with massive feedback loops).

Other ways - shade, light, texture, gleam, RELATIVE COLOUR. whoop de fucking do, all these things are changing massively, continually, always, depending on light, weather, perceptions, environment, background, movement between objects , movement WITHIN an object (which way will the Zebra jump - dunno as bunching muscles all fucked up by those dang stripes), and everything else.

False weathering patterns on 40k minis, showing you illusory mass one way, comic book style highlights on minis showing you mass another way, fake metal gleams in the non-metallic metal process showing you shape of imaginary metal, Blanchitsu style with decay and deep shadows, and the pale and nacreous skin which is good at showing those gothic shadows, showing you mass another way.

All somehow dealing with mass, or the delusion of mass, enhancing and re-creating the sense of 'shape' using false or simulated miniaturisations of aspects of the real(er) large scale world.


Especially when considered as different painting techniques, as in you literally need to do and think about a lot of stuff differently to employ each one.

Camouflage probably provides the key to entry to this subject but I have only read one book on it - stuff on 'Dazzle' (which seems like it didn't actually work, looked fucking cool though - raised morale, that counts!

But there are even different techniques and ideas behind kinds of camouflage. Camo for invisibility
for disruption of shape, of movement, counter-shading seems to have been invented, or re-invented by camo people (and oddly enough that is the exact opposite of a mini technique called zenithal highlighting).

Looking into the way camo destroys the understanding of mass and shape as a method for understanding how the eye and mind create and perceive mass and shape seems like a good idea.

More on this later perhaps.


Gotta do a brief postscript in Patricks Schizophrenia Hour.

As a result of looking into this I now hate Simulation Theory even more than I did before, whic was a lot.

It’s the ultimate narcissistic , ressentiment-based conspiracy theory, except instead of being focused on governments and social systems its focused on ALL OF REALITY

It’s also clearly theology, and bad theology at that. Investigation of the detail and subtlety of the human sensing, binding and combining process and its integration into consciousness, means that believing in simulation theory means that whatever is running the simulation both carefully and exactingly created the illusion of a hyper-complex system which evolved over bazillions of years to sense and inhabit a very particular complex eco-system AND left clues behind for the enlightened to see that thhis was all made up. Just like the God of Abraham leaving dinosaur bones behind as a test of faith.

It is a vile doctrine of superiority, the product of alienation, narcissism and a high IQ.

Profile Image for DUSTBAZ.
2 reviews
August 4, 2023
a book I picked up at random in Switzerland became my go-to reference to color and probably the most thorough source of explanation regarding how color exist thanks to and through the next one.
Profile Image for Yü.
32 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2021
I have very mixed feelings about this classic.

What I like about it: This book focuses on interactions of color, based on the idea/fact that a color is rarely seen alone but always in relation to other colors—"Color is the most relative medium of art." This perspective is in a way in contrast to the prevailing color theory which presents color first and forecast as a combination of their three attributes (hue, value, saturation), therefore a constant, physical existence. The way that this book teaches us to see—or rather, to perceive—colors is invaluable.

The book provides numerous strikingly self-explanatory examples on various visual effects and illusions to demonstrate the relativity of colors (assuring its readers that it's not our fault if we are so often misled and deceived by colors). Although the physical version only contains a selective set of such examples, many more can be found online.

What I don't like about it: This book is not suitable for self-study, especially for people who don't have a basic (but comprehensive) understanding of color theory. Most exercises and practices in the book are given in the form of group assignments and discussions and indeed only work well in that way. Moreover, the writing of the book can be sometimes opaque, too concise and coded, as if it is written as instructions for the teachers, not the students.

This book, written almost 60 years ago, does not touch on how colors are viewed, used and manipulated in this digital age. An absence that will only grow more pronounced as "colored papers", the principal material used in the book for practice, become more and more scarce.

The format of the book is also questionable. Exemplary images are placed together as a separate section from the texts. Therefore one needs to constantly go back and forth between texts and their corresponding examples. (The examples are meant to be shown as individual plates during lectures.) Moreover, throughout the book numbers are presented in numerals instead of words, which seems to be totally unreasonable, even annoying.
35 reviews
July 8, 2019
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 situation, then I recommend looking beyond this title. Albers does though provide some clues to seek classical thinking on this subject.
Throughout the brief book, Albers offers several guided exercises to help students analyse the properties of color, but leaves academic discovery to the individual participant. Over fifty years old, the march of technology has rendered transparencies obsolete, but his exercises could still be instructive. Albers' method, again relying on the nurturing collective of the classroom to seed and help grow an awareness of color's wily and transformative ability, would be an enormously revealing procedure if mentored by an experienced and knowledgable master.
But in lieu of access to such resources, this reader is forced again to haunt bookshelves in search of some color theory education.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 211 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.