The Secret Lives of Color

The Secret Lives of Color

Book - 2017
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"The unforgettable, unknown history of colors and the vivid stories behind them in a beautiful multi-colored volume The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book, Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of color tell the vivid story of our culture. "A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every color has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking."--Simon Garfield,author ofJust My Type"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2017
Characteristics: 320 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
ISBN: 9780143131144 (hardback)
0143131141 (hardback)
Call Number: 155.91145 ST. CLAIR

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SkokieStaff_Steven Jan 23, 2018

What happened to the survivors when a boat containing red dye collided with a boat containing brown dye? They were marooned. Oddly enough, this hilariously funny joke does not appear in Kassia St. Clair’s “The Secret Lives of Color,” nor, for that matter, does the color maroon. However, she doesn’t leave much else out in her richly learned collection of short, mostly historical essays on colors. (Is it any wonder that someone named “Kassia St. Clair” should have a regular column in “Elle Decoration,” the seedbed for this book? She also writes for the "Economist,” so go figure.) One of the themes running through this book is that for almost all of human history, colors used for painting or dying were usually rare, expensive, difficult to produce, or even toxic (just ask Napoleon about his arsenic-laced green wallpaper). We now live in a world awash in color, and that’s something we should never take for granted. St. Clair reminds us how far we have come.

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