Colour contrast effects

Simultaneous Colour Contrast

This Post introduces Chapter 21 of my book “Painting with Lightand Colour”. It focuses on a subject that is dealt within every book, every article and in every classroom in which the subject of colour dynamics is treated. It was first described by Michel Eugène Chevreul in 1839. The name he gave to it was “simultaneous colour contrast“.

Its potential for use in paintings was popularised by Eugene Delacroix. It was picked from him by the Impressionists and many of their Modernist Painter successors. In the twentieth century when so many artists turned to non-figurative productions, it came to be treated as a subject in itself. A particularly influential part in this process was played by teachers at the Bauhaus. Of special importance were Johannes Itten and Joseph Albers, both of whom produced  books exploring the possibilities of colour contrast effects . Both had a widespread and lasting influence on artists and art education. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce their ideas as a preparation for going beyond them. Doing so will provide the subject matter for this chapter as well as chapters 22, 23 and 24.



Three paintings exploring colour-contrast effects


Joseph Albers : from homage to the square series


Robin Denny: Baby is three


Mark Rothko: Violet Green and red


A lot more about colour-contrast coming shortly

Chapte 22 : Thin Lines

Chapter 23 : Viewing conditions

Chapter 24 : Colour and surface.


Earlier chapters from “Painting with Light and Colour”:

Go to top

Go to list of all other contents

One thought on “Colour contrast effects”

  1. Reading this chapter about ‘colour excitements’ and exploring the possibilities of colour interactions really feels like entering another world, rich and wonderful.
    Also I was interested to discover the painter Serusier whose work was unknown to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *