Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Colour theory before James Clerk Maxwell

I haven't posted anything new on the blog for a while because I wanted to draw attention to the Languages of Colour project (see previous post). I have had very good poems, stories, non-fiction pieces and art work submitted. If I get enough funding for including everything I would like to include in good picture quality it should be a very nice little volume on colour. I shall be away for most of July, so the deadline can be extended to the end of July, should anyone like to submit any work after the end of June.

J.C. Maxwell's spectrum
 In other news, I am delighted that my work on Mary Gartside, the only known pre-20th century female colour theorist, is getting another outing. I have been invited to give a talk on colour theory at King's College London as part of a lecture series on James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish physicist and colour theorist from the later 19th century. In 1861, when he was Professor at King's College London, he published the first of his papers on electromagnetism, and as part of his work on understanding colour, demonstrated the first colour photograph. My talk will focus on the 100-odd years before Maxwell, with a focus on Gartside:

Colour Theory before Maxwell

Date: Tue, 31 May 13.00 - 14.00
Audience: All welcome
A talk by Ms Alexandra Loske, University of Sussex
Details here: http://atm.kcl.ac.uk/event/2011/05/31/colour-theory-maxwell

Mary Gartside: Crimson, 1805

This talk aims to give a brief overview of theories on colour in the 18th and early 19th century. In the mid to late 18th century the influence of Newton’s 1704 publication Opticks dominates critical writings on colour. With the Romantic movement and the foundation of more organised cultural institutions such as the Royal Academy the notion of colour theory changes, culminating in extensive works by authors such as George Field in England and Goethe in Germany; the latter proving highly influential on the British art scene in the mid-19th century. I will take a closer look at one early 19th century colour theorist, Mary Gartside, who is an exemplary link between several English theorists and Goethe. Her story might explain and confirm certain trends in critical thinking and developments in colour theory in early 19th century Europe. The talk will be accompanied by numerous visualisations of colour theory, i.e. examples of colour charts, circles, spheres and stars from the original publications.