Karl Gerstner: The forms of colour (1986)
25/03/10 – In his book, The forms of colour, Karl Gerstner examines the complex interaction between colour and form and develops his own system: ‘The Colour Form Model.’
He begins by reviewing existing graphical colour spaces and form systems. These include, among others, perspective, topologies, fractals and – thanks to a simple hand-drawn pattern obtained from a Moroccan craftsman – the basic structural components of Islamic art.
He discusses the theory of forms developed by Wilhelm Ostwald in 1922 – a theory, like the Moroccan craftsman’s pattern, which provides an endless supply of formal variations, all based on a rational system. He also introduces artist Hans Hinterreiter who developed a system for closed (planar) forms and, in turn, colour.
Against this background, Gerstner outlines his own examination of the colour-form relationship. He begins with Kandinsky’s well known metaphysical ideas on the correspondence between colour and form: square=red, triangle=yellow, circle=blue.
He reevaluates Kandinsky’s findings and introduces a system of ‘Colour Signs’. Next, with the help of computer programming, Gerstner further develops the system yielding new primary forms: astroid, diagon and sinuon and establishes what he calls ‘The Colour Form Model.’
Illustrations show the development of the system, its variations and even a few sculptural works.
Gerstner concludes by opening up discussion to the possibilities of correspondence with other sensory modes, i.e., aural and tactile, and provides a range of examples from various significant sources.
Selections from Karl Gerstner’s The forms of colour: