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.’ (more…)

A selection of graphics from Bauhaus publications

The laws of cubical space are the linear network of planimetric and stereometric relationships

27/11/09 – A selection of diagrams and information graphics from Bauhaus publications by Gropius, Itten, Kandinsky , Klee, Moholy-Nagy, Schlemmer, et al. (more…)

Ladislav Sutnar: Design and paper, number 19 (1945)

Design and paper: number 19

16/07/09 – Selections from Design and paper number 19: shape, line and colour by Ladislav Sutnar, Marquardt and Co., New York (1945).

Design and paper was a series of softcover booklets produced by New York paper wholesaler Marquardt and Co. between 1937 and 1952(?). Its production ran quarterly for 39 issues and was printed at a very high standard. The series showcased the finest papers for printers, art directors and others in the printing trade. After number 7, issues were primarily devoted to individual artists and designers. Ladislav Sutnar featured in numbers 13 and 19.

In issue 19, Sutnar gives a brief and illustrative lesson in the use of shape, line and colour for organizing and presenting information. Sutnar’s characteristic style is evident in the bold use of colour, dynamic spreads and organizational signposts.

Issue 19 colophon:
Cover: Crysteel Bristol – High Plate – 22.5 x 28.5 – 200M
Text: Dullbrite White – Substance 25 × 38–70
Plates by Royal-Jones Photo Engraving Corp.

Numbers 13 and 19 were accurately reproduced in 2003 from the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague// by Fraktály Publishers. (more…)

Johannes Itten’s The Elements of Color

Johannes Itten

22/09/07 – Excerpts from The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten Based on his Book ‘The Art of Color’:

In the realm of aesthetics, are there general rules and laws of color for the artist, or is the aesthetic appreciation of colors governed solely by subjective opinion? Students often ask this question, and my answer is always the same: ‘If you, unknowing, are able to create masterpieces in color, then un-knowledge is your way. But if you are unable to create masterpieces in color out of your unknowledge, then you ought to look for knowledge.’ ( 7)

Doctrines and theories are best for weaker moments. In moments of strength, problems are solved intuitively, as if of themselves. (ibid.)

Knowledge of the laws of design need not imprison, it can liberate from indecision and vacillating perception. (8)

As the tortoise draws its limbs into its shell at need, so the artist reserves his scientific principles when working intuitively. (ibid.)

Color is life; for a world without colors appears to us as dead. […] Light, that first phenomenon of the world, reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors. (ibid.) (more…)

Oliver Tomas

  • Design historian and archivist based in Vancouver, Canada.
  • info[at]olivertomas[dot]com