PRINT December 1988



WE HAVE, OF COURSE, quite a number of color theories, and of techniques that apply them. Surprisingly, however, we seem to have no satisfactory theory on the cultural role of colors. No doubt the symbolic standing of various colors in different cultures has been the subject of ethnological, anthropological, and psychological studies, and the results have surely been applied by people in such fields as publicity, marketing, architecture, and design. But we seem to have no meaningful theoretical answers to questions like, Is there, or is there not, an underlying pattern to the periodic changes in coloring of our cultural landscape? Why does the classical Greek town seem to have been so colorful, and the Hellenistic one so monochromatic? What is the explanation for the grayness we associate with 19th-century cities (coal? money? printed matter?), and can Impressionism be understood as a revolt

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