Colour and Spirit

31 Aug 2017

Today, consumers can choose from a variety of colour-ways when buying otherwise identical items like cars. Such everyday treatment of colour, as a superficial and merely cosmetic feature, both reflects and reinforces the adage 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Colours are generally subject to whim and fashion unless, like red-and-green traffic lights, they are governed by conventions which are generally assumed to have arbitrary or utilitarian origins. It is therefore only to be expected that current appreciation of colour in art, like the Virgin's blue-and-gold robe, should be influenced by such wider cultural attitudes. Artists may have produced detailed expositions about colour but, since colour is a rich phenomenon and multiple interpretations are valid, any one exposition, such as Kandinski's, can be dismissed as subjective or idiosyncratic. These circumstances encourage the assumption that the use of colour in art might be either arbitrary, conventional or simply pre-determined by that which is represented in figurative art.