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the ancients

the alchemists



the new scientists

the new colors

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The Stories section lists the reading associated with each week's lectures and studiolab. Selected quotes from the readings foreshadow the story for each week's assignment.

Week 1
Ball- Bright Earth chapter 1, 3
  Elkins - What Painting is introduction

"WATER AND STONES. Those are the unpromising ingredients of two very different endeavors."Elkins

"This is where alchemy can help, because it is the most developed language for thinking in substances and processes." Elkins

"The starting point is the study of color and its effect on [wo]men." Wassily Kandinsky

"So it is surprising that little attention has been given to the matter of how artists obtain their colors, as opposed to how they used them. ....Art historian John Gage confesses that 'one of the least studied aspects of the history of art is art's tools'." Ball

"Ernst Gombrich asserts that 'art is altogether different from science' ". Ball

"Moreover, before the Age of Reason, the distinction between art and science was not synonymous with that between intuition and rationality." Ball

"Fear and Loathing of Color .... color threathens us with regression, with infantilism...color is the shattering of unity ...color speaks of heightned emotions ...and of eroticism...here, then is another reason to distrust color: it is feminine."

"To the chemist, color is a bountiful clue to composition and, if measured carefully enough, can reveal delicate truths about molecular structure." Ball

Weeks 2 & 3
Ball- Bright Earth chapter 4
  Elkins - What Painting is chapter 1 through 3

ALCHEMY is the art that knows how to make a substance no formula can describe. And it knows the particular turmoil of thoughts that find expression in colors. Alchemy is the old science of struggling with materials, and not quite understanding what is happening...exactly as every painter does each day in the studio." Elkins

"... the ingredients of painting have never been too different from those of alchemy." Elkins

"Alchemists and artists also share a predilection for bizarre ingredients." Elkins

"...instead of learning words, painters learn substances....That is the problem that confronts artists, because they are interested in nuances of mixture...That close observation is sometimes lost otday, when we think we know what substances are. But artists and alchemists have to keep their eye on everything, because they do not know what to expect." Elkins

Weeks 4 - 6
Ball- Bright Earth chapter 5 & 6

BROWNS are surely the least glamorous of all pigments. Ball

"A good painting, like a good fiddle, should be brown." Sir George Beaumont, patron of Constable

One can imagine that the humanistic ocncern to match colors to nature placed a greater demand on green than on any other color. Ball

Week 9
Ball- Bright Earth chapter 7, 9, 10


THERE will never be another fifty years in chemistry like those that began in 1770's...

"Chemistry may...ultimately teach us systematically to build up coloring molecules, the particular tint of which we may predict...." Hofmann

Elements are chemistry's cast of characters....

"The time was ripe for a rational synthesis of color." Ball

"The power of profound meaning is found in blue. The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest. When it sinks almost to black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human." Kandinsky

Week 10
Ball- Bright Earth chapter 2, 8