Henry Austin Dobson - James Fox TV - Claude Monet - Wassily Kandinsky - Edouard Manet - Paul Gauguin - El Greco - Edvard Munch - Joan Miro - Paul Klee - Voltaire - Isaac Newton - Francis Bacon - Alice Walker - Horizon TV - Paul Cezanne - Damien Hirst - John Motson - Jack Kerouac - Oscar Wilde - G K Chesterton - Beau Lotto - Michael Mosley TV - Helen Czerski TV - Lynn Reid Banks - Richard Dawkins - James Joyce - David Eagleman TV - Iain Ferguson TV - David Coleman - Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook TV - Iain Stewart TV - Civilisations TV - David Attenborough TV -
The ladies of St James’s!
They’re painted to the eyes;
Their white it stays for ever,
Their red it never dies:
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!
Her colour comes and goes;
It trembles to a lily, –
It wavers to a rose. Henry Austin Dobson, The Ladies of St James’s, 1883
We live in a kaleidoscopic world. But colours are more than mere decoration. Colours carry deep and significant meanings for us all. And in this series I want to unravel the stories of three colours. Three colours [Blue Gold White] which in the hands of artists have stirred our emotions, changed the way we behave, and even altered the course of history. Dr James Fox, A History of Art in Three Colours: Gold I, BBC 2012
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. Claude Monet
Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul. Wassily Kandinsky
Colour is a power which directly influences the soul. Wassily Kandinsky
Colour is a matter of taste and of sensitivity. Edouard Manet
It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable colour to every object; beware of this stumbling block. Paul Gauguin
I hold the imitation of colour to be the greatest difficulty in art. El Greco
I painted the picture, and in the colours the rhythm of the music quivers. I painted the colours I saw. Edvard Munch
I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music. Joan Miro
Colour has taken hold of me; no longer do I have to chase after it. I know that it has hold of me for ever. That is the significance of this blessed moment. Paul Klee on visit to Tunis 1914
The little may contrast with the great, in painting, but cannot be said to be contrary to it. Oppositions of colours contrast; but there are also colors contrary to each other, that is, which produce an ill effect because they shock the eye when brought very near it. Voltaire
I procured me a [triangular] glass prism to try therewith the celebrated phenomena of colours. Isaac Newton
Are not the Rays of Light in passing by the edges and sides of Bodies, bent several times backwards and forwards, with a motion like that of an Eel? And do not the three Fringes of colour’d Light... arise from three such bendings? Isaac Newton, Optick: Query III
Do not Bodies and Light act mutually upon one another; that is to say, Bodies upon Light in emitting, reflecting, refracting and inflecting it, and Light upon Bodies for heating them, and putting their parts into a vibrating motion wherein heat consists? ibid. Query V
Do not several sorts of Rays make Vibrations of several bignesses, which according to their bigness excite Sensations of several Colours, much after the manner that the Vibrations of the Air, according to their several bignesses excite Sensations of several Sounds? And particularly do not the most refrangible Rays excite the shortest Vibrations for making a Sensation of deep violet, the least refrangible the largest form making a Sensation of deep red, and several intermediate sorts of Rays, Vibrations of several intermediate bignesses to make Sensations of several intermediate Colours? ibid. Query XIII
And so, supposing that light impinging on a refracting or reflecting ethereal superficies puts it into a vibrating motion, that physical superficies being by the perpetual applause of rays always kept in a vibrating motion, and the ether therein continually expanded and compressed by turns, if a ray of light impinge on it when it is much compressed, I suppose it is then too dense and stiff to let the ray through, and so reflects it; but the rays that impinge on it at other times, when it is either expanded by the interval between two vibrations or not too much compressed and condensed, go through and are refracted. Isaac Newton, article 1675, ‘Hypothesis Explaining the Properties of Light’
And now to explain colours. I suppose that as bodies excite sounds of various tones and consequently vibrations, in the air of various bignesses, so when rays of light by impinging on the stiff refracting superficies excite vibrations in the ether, these rays excite vibrations of various bignesses. ibid.
All colours agree in the dark. Francis Bacon, Essays: ‘Or Unity in Religion’, 1625
I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. Alice Walker, The Colour Purple, 1982
Some programmes aren’t much fun in black and white. Colour makes the world a much more enjoyable place. But why do we see in colour? Surely not for simple aesthetic reasons. Colour vision may have evolved because it serves some practical purpose. This that completely overturn our old theories of how we see colours. Horizon: Colourful Notions, BBC 1985
But the theory still can’t explain these coloured shadows: how green light produces a red shadow or blue light produces a yellow one. ibid.
Dr Edwin Land astonished the world with the Polaroid instant camera in 1948. ibid.
There must indeed be some relation between the colour of an object and the amount of long, middle or short-wave light it reflects. ibid.
We live a world made of a kaleidoscope of colours ... Are these colours really what they seem? Is the sky really blue? Are the leaves really green? Horizon: Do You See What I See? BBC 2011
It’s an unsettling idea that colours may not really exist ... Do you see red in the same way that I do? ibid.
Wearing red seemed to help people win in a sporting situation. ibid.
Colour can speed up time. But it’s not the colour red that does it ... Blue seems to able to speed up time. ibid.
For us as a species the way we see colour has a history. ibid.
Red and green are colours we have had to learn. ibid.
Colour is created in your brain. It’s made from the language you speak, the memories you carry, even the moods you feel. It is one of Nature’s great illusions. ibid.
There’s even a difference between men and women. ibid.
Any colour – so long as it’s black. Henry Ford
The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most. John Ruskin
Colour is the place where our brain and the universe meet. That’s why colour appears so entirely dramatic, to true painters. Paul Cezanne
Pure drawing is an abstraction. Drawing and colour are not distinct, everything in nature is coloured. Paul Cezanne
When I used to do abstract paintings at school, like everyone else, the tutor said these would make great curtains. I would always neglect the formal stuff that was going on by using colour, because colour kind of came naturally to me. Damien Hirst
Nearly all the Brazilian supporters are wearing yellow shirts – it’s a fabulous kaleidoscope of colour. John Motson
For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all-yellow strip. John Motson, BBC1
Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the colour of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries. Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. Oscar Wilde
White is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. G K Chesterton, Orthodoxy