The Interaction of Color: Albers’ Landmark Book

The slipcase and one of the portfolios from Josef Albers' The Interaction of Color

Remember those exercises with Color-Aid and gouache in art school? Chroma, value, saturation, tint, tone, simultaneous contrast? Remember mixing grays that couldn’t have been more different so that when you placed them on complementary colors they would look the same? God, I loved that class!

On Cape Cod for the opening of Calculated Color on Friday, I got to see an original edition of Josef Albers’ The Interaction of Color (Yale University Press, 1963), in which silkscreened studies show all of those things. Although a commercial version has been in print for some years, and a revised and expanded version was published last year, the volume I’m talking about is deluxe to the 10th power: a handscreened edition with portfolios contained in their own custom slipcase. The actual hand screening was likely left to the graduate students, butI like to think there's some of Albers' DNA on those pages.

Jane Lincoln, curator of Calculated Color, is the owner of the book. She hosted some of the artists for lunch at her home, and afterward we went up to her studio. Jane creates color studies using a white-line woodblock print, an artform invented and developed on the Cape. You’ll see more of her work, and everyone else’s in the show, in the next post. But in this post we’re going to view a few folios from The Interaction of Color. Here, take a look:

Simultaneous contrast as depicted by a portfolio in The Interaction of Color. (At rear, the box in which the portfolios are contained)

More contrasts, above

Below, warm and cool hues with their chromatic variations

FYI, below are a couple of page spreads from the updated editon of the commercially printed volume. If I can't have the big book, I can at least have the small version of The Interaction of Color. I’ve just ordered one for myself.

The original printed edition, above, out of print. Fabulous cover, no?
The cover of the revised edition, below (not so fabulous)

Amazon offered these pages for viewing. See the one above? There's a similar silkscreen page, off to the background, in the second image from the top of this post

Below it's the Illusion of Transparency

Next post: Calculated Color

Related posts: Homage to the Square and Geometric at MoMA, Part 4 with images of Albers' silkscreen squares



Donna Thomas said...

I experienced Color-Aid in my pre-grad color class for my MS in Interior Design. I found it easier to mix acrylic paint colors than to use the Color-Aid paper; at least at first.

For every project in the class, there is a corresponding fun event that I missed with my ex-husband and other friends. I found having a life impossible while in grad school.

My Albers book is in a moving box in the garage. Damn!

I'd love to see that original addition!

sus said...

Sus steps into the way back machine...
to the summer that I worked at the library where I went to college. The college had a rare editions room, as well as back-stacks of unusual editions. The Albers Yale edition was one of the ones that I spent time with over that summer, any excuse to go back into the stacks and peruse a folio.

katrina said...

great post!

im thinking of buying this book but was wondering what you think of the colors in the book compared to the real deal. They look slightly muted and dulled down in the amazon views.