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Goethe's Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Book Overview: 

Newton's observations on the optical spectrum were widely accepted but Goethe noticed the difference between the scientific explanation and the phenomena as experienced by the human eye. He did not try to explain this, but rather collected and presented data, conducting experiments on the interplay of light and dark. His work was rejected as 'unscientific' by physicists but his color wheel is still used by artists today.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ature, and thus, unconsciously imitating it, their colouring is criticised as unnatural.

60.

These phenomena are of the greatest importance, since they direct our attention to the laws of vision, and are a necessary preparation for future observations on colours. They show that the eye especially demands completeness, and seeks to eke out the colorific circle in itself. The purple or violet colour suggested by yellow contains red and blue; orange, which responds to blue, is composed of yellow and red; green, uniting blue and yellow, demands red; and so through all gradations of the most complicated combinations. That we are compelled in this case to assume three leading colours has been already remarked by other observers.

61.

When in this completeness the elements of which it is composed are still appreciable by the eye, the result is justly called harmony. We shall subsequently endeavour to show how the the. . . Read More

Community Reviews

My favorite chapter was brown!

Goethe vs Newton

Goethe plays a game of marbles with his eyeballs. You can join him, but you have to play by his rules; and they won't always be fair. I wasn't able to follow along with most of the demonstrations because I didn't have prisms, colored glass and candles handy... this book should really come with a lit

Kuukauden kestänyt syventymiseni väreihin ja värioppiin on viimein tullut päätökseen, kun koko kirja on palalta luettu. Mieletön kulttuuriteko Teokselta viimein julkaista tämä suomeksi, suomentajien projektista nyt puhumattakaan.

Oma mielenkiintoni kirjaa kohtaan on puhtaan harrastajamainen - ja toi

the detail of perception

You what?

Most self-respecting books about colour mention Goethe sooner or later. Those references are simply the continued reverberations of his work, from when it was written in 1810 to the present day, and they retroactively provide the uninitiated reader with a context for his theory and the motivation to

O que me fez interessar por obra tão desconhecida de Goethe, foi certa vez ter ouvido na aula de Cosmologia e Astrologia Medieval do prof. Luiz Gonzaga de Carvalho Neto (Gugu) que, do ponto de vista simbólico, as cores primárias (vermelho, amarelo e azul) e as secundárias (verde, laranja e roxo) rep

Only book on color you'll ever need!

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