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Interaction of Color

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  6,741 ratings  ·  118 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 19
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Paperback, Revised, Expanded, 160 pages
Published May 15th 2006 by Yale University Press (first published 1971)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Vivian
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, 2018-odyssey, 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
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Yuki
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: connoisseurs, color theorists
description

One of the paintings in the series Abstract, by Clare Rojas.
Freyja 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
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Karen
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.
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
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Kevin
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.
Rachel
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.
Maura
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!
Nico
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.
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
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Skyler
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pretty foundational, opened my eyes literally to color effects.
Nat
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
Alex
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
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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
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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.
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.
Liz
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.
Susanna
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
great book on color theory
Kyle
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 infuriating ...more
Paul
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So first, the back story – in Mexico City, we visited the incredibly beautiful Casa Gilardi, designed by Luis Barragán. Our guide Eduardo, who grew up in the house, cited Josef Albers, and this book in particular, as sources of inspiration for Barragán’s use of color – sure enough, there are plenty of instances in the house where Barragán was clearly thinking about simultaneous contrast, film vs. surface colors, and other color effects Albers describes. I think “helped inspire the colors of Casa ...more
Kit
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-cla
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Bernie
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I managed to do all the studies in this book and I have learnt a lot in the process. My samples are not as pristine as Albers versions, but he did get his students to do them for him. As a painter I found a lot of the studies centered on theories I use in my work intuitively but I would not have been able to put into words until now. It has given me a better understanding of colour and how it is used.
I highly recommend artists/colourists to read and try doing at least some of the studies w
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Karen
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
i visited The Andersen Collection with my mom and saw one of Josef Albers’ yellow square paintings, which reminded me that i wanted to read this book. i saw it in the bookstore at the Tate in London and bought it. this book is very technical which is a lot of what i love about it. i really felt that it worked my brain, staring at all of those reproduced color swatches in rectangles, circles, stripes, and abstract patterns. (and there was much that i still didn’t quite understand.) the book is it ...more
Mochammad Yusni
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand color interactions and effects. Different with The Art of Colors by Itten which filled with a lot of theories, this book suggests that practice should precedes the understanding of colors, not through theory. The only limitation to really do the practices of this book, is where the hell can i find very broad range of colored papers in Jakarta? Might be very useful to teach the students with that. Overall highly recommended! But I sugges ...more
Paul
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read this to see how the full-format version compared to the paperback – hooray for libraries! It's beautifully printed, and there are a few exercises that seem to work better, either because of the larger format or thanks to additional flaps/loose-leaf bits. But there are also exercises that are a bit more comprehensible in the smaller format, and two giant hardbound volumes was a little unwieldy. Glad I checked it out, but I'll probably save a couple hundred bucks and stick with the paperba ...more
Matthew
5 stars for the 'Interaction of Color' but only 3 for this 1970s edition. I appreciate that colour plates add to production costs but producing a black and white edition of an exemplified book on colour theory without the colour examples, then sticking a whole 8 token colour plates at the end, is ridiculous. Whatever the happy medium between a $200 silk screened edition, and an accessible study aid should have been, it wasn't this.

Andy Dobbie
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have I read it? Yes. Did I understand it? Some, but definitely not all, of it. I've heard the best approach to this book being described as to treat it as a meditation on colour. I wanted to read it because it's such an iconic book, but if you're after a slightly more easily digestible introduction to colour, I would highly recommend Colour: A workshop for artists and designers by David Hornung.
Alice
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
I think you'd get the most out of this book by actually doing the exercises yourself with pieces of color paper (though those may be harder to find these days as published magazines die off). Also the way this book was structured was really confusing - I didn't realize the example plates were in the back as there was no indication or page numbers for where to find them.
W.G. Saraband
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most invaluable books for any inspiring visual artist. The language can be a bit pretentious and seemingly impenetrable, but its theories and ideas are utterly fascinating and have had a massive impact on the way I create my art.
Amelia Blackburn
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book blew my mind so many times. Really interesting look at the relativity of color, offers exercises that illustrate the different ways in which the interaction of color alters our perception. Josef is the man.
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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.
“...Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.” 4 likes
“Usually, we think of an apple as being red.
This is not the same red as that of a cherry or tomato.
A lemon is yellow and an orange like that of its name.
Bricks vary from beige to yellow to orange,
and from ochre to brown to deep violet.
Foliage appears in innumerable shades of green.
In all these cases the colors named are surface colors.

In a very different was, distant mountains appear uniformly blue,
no matter whether covered
with green trees or consisting of earth and rocks.
The sun is glaring white in daytime, but it is full red at sunset.
The white ceiling of houses surrounded by lawns or the white-painted
eaves of a roof on a sunny day appear in bright green, which is
reflected from the grass on the ground.
All these cases present film colors.

They appear as a thin, transparent, translucent layer between the eye and an object, independent of the object's surface color.”
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