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The Art and Science of Color

December 7, 1987–January 22, 1988
East Building, Ground Floor, Study Center

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.


Original exhibition poster
(click to enlarge)

Overview: The subject of color sensation, fundamental to the study of the visual arts, has elicited the speculations of philosophers, scientists, and artists for centuries. The library is fortunate to own a number of works on this topic, and put together an exhibition to highlight this part of the collection. Many works are primarily concerned with the physical properties of color (pigment) and their effects on the eye; others, including works by Goethe, Runge, Klee, and Albers, suggest specific applications of these principles to produce a variety of aesthetic responses in the viewer. Several are notable for their attempts to reproduce fine distinctions of color accurately. Of obvious value to conservators and historians, these examples are also of unusual bibliographic interest.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art. Susan Clay, acquisitions assistant, and Roger Lawson, head of cataloging, were cocurators.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
German, 1749 - 1832
Runge, Philipp Otto
German, 1777 - 1810
Klee, Paul
Swiss, 1879 - 1940
Albers, Josef
American, 1888 - 1976