15. Arnheim, Rudolf. Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology

of the Creative Eye. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

508 pp. Index, bibl., endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-


    This book is as valuable for its nearly 500-item bibliography and

endnote references as for its excellent 37-page chapter on color perception,

which addresses concepts vital to understanding color, such as the

components of perception, reactions to color, syntax of color, mutual

completion and complements. Armheim operates from an essentially Gestalt

viewpoint in this interesting bridge between art and psychology. Balance,

shape, form, growth, space, movement, light, color, dynamics, and

expression are analyzed with regard to the visual arts. While the book is

geared to the advanced student who has had exposure to analysis of visual

arts, prior knowledge is not assumed.

16. Birren, Faber. Color Perception in Art. New York: Van Nostrand

Reinhold, 1976. 88 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-442-


    A brief discussion of color usage in painting is followed by a short

and sometimes inaccurate review of color theory. Topics include

perception, illumination, and color constancy. The illustrations are

uninspired and only moderately effective. A 35-item annotated bibliography

and a listing of Birren’s major publications may be useful to some readers.

Birren provides a minimum of new information in this book; most is better

said and more fully discussed in his earlier books Creative Color and Color:

A Survey in Words and Pictures.

17.  Birren, Faber. Color Form and Space. New York: Van Nostrand

Reinhold, 1961. 128 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus.

    Here Birren moves into the realm of the third dimension. Beginning

with a Gestalt approach to visual perception, he explains shape constancy

and illusion with reference to both two- and three-dimensional examples.

The discussion of color and form addresses color association and meaning,

creating satisfactory color schemes for three-dimensional works, the effect

of lighting, and the phenomena of color constancy. He also makes

suggestions for ‚”new expressions” in three-dimensional designs through

incorporation of special effects such as luster, iridescence, luminosity, and

transparency. Overall, the presentation is both incomplete and lacking in

organization. Although brief and dated, the bibliography does include many

of the classic titles in the area of visual perception.

18. Birren, Faber. Functional Color. New York: Crimson, 1937. 124 pp.

Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus.

    Birren’s concern here is with the use of color in industry,

transportation, architecture, and interiors. The subtitle —”A Book of Facts

and Research Meant to Inspire More Rational Methods in the Solution of

Color Problems”-- indicates the scope of this book. The visual and

emotional aspects of color are addressed, but no documentation is provided.

This very dated book is nevertheless interesting as a record of the color

options available to businesses in the 1930s and as a document of the early

work of a prolific writer of popular books on color use.

19. Birren, Faber. The Story of Color. Westport, CT: Crimson, 1941. 338

pp. Index, bibl., appendices, B/W illus.

    This is Birren’s earliest comprehensive book on color. He reviews

color in art, religion and mythology, healing, culture, astrology, alchemy,

science, and psychology. The information included here has been expanded

on in many of his later works, especially Color: A Survey in Words and

Pictures of Color in Painting. Of particular interest are

summaries of the work of influential scientists and colorists from Helmholtz

to Munsell and Ostwald. Both text and appendices address color

symbolism and color preference. Specific research mentioned in the text

can be located in the 200-book bibliography. Despite its 1941 publication

date, the broad range of topics covered makes this an exceptionally useful

and interesting resource, especially for curiosities and color trivia.

20. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The Rainbow Book. Berkeley, CA:

Shambala, 1975. 224 pp. Bibl., endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus. ISBN 0-


    This collection of illustrations and essays about the myth, lore,

physics, and metaphysics of rainbows, was created in conjunction with

“The Rainbow Show,” a 1975 Bay Area celebration of color and light.

Various chapters are printed on colored papers arranged in spectral order.

Packed with unusual information as well as much that is generally known,

this work is especially useful for its collection of material on color as it

relates to music, symbolism, and auras. In each chapter, information is

provided in increasing complexity. The essays, some carefully

documented, are short and self-contained. The principal contributors are

experts in their fields.

21. Marx, Ellen. Optical Color and Simultaneity. Translated by

Geoffrey O’Brien. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983. 152 pp.

Endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-442-23864-9.

    Psychological and physiological aspects of optical color are

approached through an exceptional collection of designed visuals that

demonstrate optical and subtractive complements, successive contrast, and

the opposing color effects of simultaneous contrast and optical mixture.

The reader views 100 color pages produced through superb five-color

printing (CYMK plus green), on which 24 color-printed acetate overlays

can be superimposed. The straightforward text complements the

illustrations and explains complex ideas clearly for its intended audience of

art and design professionals and students.

22. Sharpe, Deborah. The Psychology of Color and Design.

Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1974. 170 pp. Indices, endnotes/footnotes, B/W

illus. ISBN 0-88229-107-6.

    This documented scholarly study begins with a brief review of

classic treatises by Goethe, Chevreul, Bezold, Munsell, and Ostwald. Brief

summaries are presented of research on color symbolism, the color

preferences of children, and color preferences related to religion, race, and

climate. The final three chapters cover the perception of color and how the

brain interprets the physical stimulus of color; Gestalt psychology concepts

of figure-ground organization, similarity groupings, and closure; and

application of color psychology to interiors, advertising, and marketing.

The subject and name indices and the endnotes provide useful references for

further investigation. A shortcoming is the lack of visual documentation

such as color plates.

23. Tanaka, Iffo and Kazuko Koike, ed. Japan Color. San Francisco:

Chronicle, 1983. 120 pp. B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-87701-3 10- 1.

    With photographs, advertisements, and minimal text, this book

explores traditional color meanings in Japan. Chapters are organized by

individual color and are beautifully illustrated. Paragraph-long captions for

each illustration are located at the end of the book. The importance of

Japanese influence on contemporary design makes this valuable introduction

to Japanese color a must for designers employed by firms targeting the

Japanese market and a possible source of inspiration to other designers.

24. Trevor-Roper, Patrick. The World Through Blunted Sight: An

Inquiry into the Influence of Defective Vision on Art and

Character. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970. 192 pp. Index, bibl.,

B/W illus., color illus.

    This ophthalmologist considers the human personality as a reflection

of both how well and in what way we see, and defines art as the outward

expression of the personality. He examines the creative work and activities

of 50 renowned artists, composers, writers, poets, philosophers and

historic figures. His analysis of the influences of blunted sight brought

about by myopia, presbyopia, cataract, and other conditions focusses on the

creative production of 17 visual artists. Other topics include the optical

basis of vision, color and temperament, the influence of environmental

color, therapeutic use of color, and influence on painting of natural eye

pigments. Roughly a quarter of this fascinating and beautifully illustrated

book discusses color. Detailed notes and a 198-item bibliography further

enhance this work.

25. Valentine, Charles Wilfred. The Experimental Psychology of Beauty.

London: Methuen, 1962. 438 pp. Index, endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus.

    Valentine brings together the results of a variety of experiments and

studies that deal with the reaction of people of many types and ages to that

which is said to be beautiful. He looks not only at color and design

elements but also at art objects, music, and poetry. Two chapters

summarize the results of research mainly from the first third of the 20th century

on preferences and attitudes toward colors and color combinations, which

are affected by environment, fashion, the intended use of the color or

object, and many other factors. The variety of results and inconsistency

between studies point to the need for more careful control of variables in

future research. Although dated, this book is recommended as an overview

of early research on color preference.

26. Varley, Helen, ed. Color. New York: Knapp, 1980. 256 pp.

Index, bibl., glossary, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-8148-0726-7.

    This compilation of all aspects of color -- from architecture, culture,

and nature to technology and even body-painting -- features the human

response to color as a prevailing theme in a beautifully illustrated and

encyclopedic survey of the world of color. The production team includes

artist-designer Donald Pavey, who is sometimes credited with its

authorship. A major section deals with the psychological effects of the six

primary and secondary hue families and achromatic color. Though the

many individual essays are not attributed and information is not

documented, the glossary and the bibliography with over 360 titles

recommended by the expert consultants, add to the book’s usefulness. This

collection of fascinating information, curiosities, and trivia is both inspiring

and entertaining.

27. Vitz, Paul C. and Arnold B. Glimcher. Modem Art and

Modern Science: The Parallel Analysis of Vision. New York:

Praeger, 1984. 384 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-03-


    This analysis of mutual influences between modem art and modem

science provides “dramatic evidence for the thesis that there was influence

from visual science or that the artist on his own had discovered the same

visual phenomena that contemporary scientists were investigating.” Major

chapter topics include light, color, space, and form in this context. A

chapter titled “Color: Theorists in Science and Art” examines the

connections between science and art and the influences that link Chevreul to

Delacroix and Delaunay, Rood and Seurat, Denis and Monet, Henry and

Delaunay. The work of Kupka, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Klee, Albers,

Kelly, and others who contributed to the iconography of color theory is

considered, as are Gestalt theory and the Gestalt artists. The many

illustrations, diagrams, and documentary photographs on most pages,

profuse and detailed notes, and the 368-item bibliography that draws from

perception and psychology of art sources, makes this a very rich resource.

28. Wagner, Carlton. Color Power + The Wagner Color Response

Dictionary. Santa Barbara, CA: Wagner Institute for Color Research,

1985. 214 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    Insisting that it is human response to color that sells a product or ad,

Wagner provides information on typical responses so the designer or

marketing expert can use them to advantage. He contends that color

preference and response are related to an individual’s position on the

socioeconomic ladder. Although he states that “The impact of color is

profound and largely unconscious, according to psychological and

neurological research,” he does not reveal his sources. Some readers will

be put off by his use of fictional case studies featuring Stella Biltrite,

Rodney Ravish, Stanley Stunning and others. A set of 100 color swatches,

identical to those found with the Wagner Color Response Report, is


29. Wagner, Carlton. The Wagner Color Response Report. Santa

Barbara, CA: Wagner Institute for Color Research, 1985. Variously


        Wagner contends that color theory is unimportant; decisions about

color should be based primarily on consumer response. He states that

response to color is inborn, learned, geographic or regional, ethnic, and

gender linked and can be affected by light, climate, socioeconomic position

and sophistication. Responses to red, orange, yellow, blue, blue-green,

green, brown, gray, white, and black are explained but not related

specifically to the colors swatches that accompany the text. An

accompanying  seven-page pamphlet “Let Your Colors Do the Talking,”

discusses the visual impression created by wardrobe colors. He states that

men prefer red-based colors and women prefer blue-based colors. Colors

mentioned in the pamphlet can be found among the 100 swatches in

the Wagner Color Response Dictionary, which are labeled with color name

and response by gender, socioeconomic status, and other similar

information. The straightforward presentation of a large quantity of

information makes this a far more useful publication than Wagner’ Color

Power. Nevertheless, many readers will find the lack of illustrations and

documentation frustrating.