History of Coloring in Art

The use of color in history has truly gone through an extended story. It has been used due to its ability in modifying mood and atmosphere, and also because of its symbolic meanings. The earliest known usage of colour in interior space started out when man drew on wall space of caves and tombs, which carries on with the application on cathedrals, palaces, and typical homes.

History of colour

The usage of shade has been involved in the architectural development in early Egypt and Greeks. It has been used mostly due to association of shade with certain symbolism in the ethnicities.

Ancient Egypt, one of the very most documented civilizations, used paintings on wall surfaces and ceilings in order to tell the storyplot of these civilization, from lifestyle to battle views. Earth pigments are used in creating these paintings - red, yellow ochre, also green, blue, purple, dark, white, and grey. Each colour is utilized to symbolise certain criterias, for example red ocher for skin colour of men, while yellow is utilized for the ladies. While in the Greek record, the Palace of Knossos, is a distinct example of the utilization of colour in its architecture. The most outstanding feature in the building is its large red and dark-colored columns. Palace of Knossos, Greece

Colour has been widely used in the past, but this traditions doesn't always go well over the development in structures.

The Lost of Colour

Being used and developed throughout the early civilization, colour arrived at a point times when its use is being ignored. The situation is triggered by several reasons, like the notion of whiteness, and exactly how this idea is reinforce by the introduction of the Modern Activity and International Style, who preferred the natural shade of the materials, and later on the thought of black, white, and grey in Minimalism. These movements has evolved people's understanding of colour and for that reason causing avoidance in its request.


" Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. " - Bible

The colour white, through various ethnicities, has been associated with efficiency, innocence, and cleanliness. Color, on the other hand, is regarded as the opposite of whiteness, which is dirtiness and the less-than-true. The word 'coloring', which is colorem in Latin, is related to celare, methods to conceal or conceal. In Midsection English 'to coloring' methods to disguise.

The Modern Motion, International Style and Minimalism

Rejection of colour, partially is also created by the effect of Modern Movements and International Style, which frequently termed their works as 'minimal'. In this period, light and neutral shades are preferred in the space. White is the most dominating colour since it allows colors and light in the encompassing reflects in to the space and that it's felt as natural colour. Shade, on the other hand, is being avoided because it makes a eye-catching contrast with the encompassing. Even in occasions when it is used, colour is still artificially applied and the majority of the floors is white. The famous people in this period are Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. Their works, reflecting the thought of Modern Motion, shows restraint use of shade. Instead of using colorings, they use the original colour and surface from the materials used, such as material, glass, concrete, masonry, and natural stone, which dominates their works.

Minimalism, another architectural style, is also much from the use of white. The term 'minimalism' is applied to works showing reduction in forms, usually made up of flat surfaces that reflect a simple and tranquil atmosphere. White shade is chosen as the most dominant colour, since it is seen as color with pure, easy, and serene quality, and for that reason goes along with the idea of calmness and tranquillity in minimalism. Samuel Wagstaff, a skill curator, mentioned that this new appearance in black, white, and grey, is aimed to keep the audience from being ' biased by the emotionalism of colour'. So, white coloring, along with black and gray are preferred to be utilized here.


The perception of white and the modern art movement effect has a causal regards to what David Batchelor stated as 'chromophobia'. Chromophobia, based on David Batchelor, is thought as ' a fear of corruption or contaminants through shade'. He pointed out that chromophobia " manifests itself in the countless and varied endeavors to purge color from culture, to devalue colour, to decrease its value, to refuse its complexity ". ( Batchelor, David, 2000)

The rejection of colour happens in two ways. First, coloring is 'made out of foreign body- usually the female, the vulgar, . . . '. In this case, colour is cured as something international, something 'alien'( Batchelor, David, 2000 ) so that it is considered dangerous. Charles Blanc, a colour theorist, identified shade with the 'female' in fine art and as something that cannot be detached from life. Not just that, he even consider coloring as a long term internal risk. Therefore, he developed the thought of either completely disregarding colour or handling it, in order to avoiding it from ruining everything.

Charles Blanc is not the sole chromophobic. The idea of 'fear of colour' in addition has swept the culture and therefore experienced its impact to architectural design. Some situations of the rejection of color in the past have been experienced by architects. It just happened to Belgian architect Huib Hoste, who throughout his job has been tinkering with colours in his works. One of is own works, the Zwart Huis ( Black color House ), which is established for Raymond de Beir Knokke in 1924 is decorated deep dark and partly red for its walls. Complains originated from the neighbours who experienced unpleasant by the too-striking-colours and how it broke the harmony within the surrounding environment. In 2001, a similar problem occured with the task by MVRDV. Creating a whole orange office building in a courtyard in Amsterdam, provoked dissapproval from the neighbours who felt annoyed with the orange glow that pressured its way to the surrounding homes. " Everything around you is orange - you didn't require it, you didn't want to buy, but you can't do anything about any of it", they said. (Shade in Contemporary Architecture, 2009)

According to David Batchelor, the word 'chromophobia', other than defining shade as dangerous, is also used for the thought of color as "something superficial, supplementary, and as a secondary quality of experience", which brings about lack of factor in its usage. This had took place even in ancient times, when Vitruvius complained that buildings were painted without considering its relationship with the architectural form, this means there was very little consideration put in the idea process therefore causing an unsatisfying job.

Rejection for coloring has turned into a serious problem and therefore cause the lost of coloring.

THESIS Affirmation : Coloring once is recognized as an afterthought, so it eventually ends up as ornamental elements. It also has been considered dangerous. But considering the ability of colour in changing conception and mood, there could be an opportunity to create a more emotive architecture than those without shade. So, should we re-examine the role of shade in architecture?


Colour in Architecture

The impulse of using colour in architecture surfaced in 1920s, encouraged by paintings. Three architects who have been recognized to use coloring in their works in this period are Le Corbusier, Theo van Doesburg, and Bruno Taut, but each architect has different methodology in applying coloring in their works.

Theo van Doesburg, is the person in De Stijl Movement, an important fulfillment in applying shade in structures. Other movements using colour as their conceptual design basis are Constructivism and Expressionism. In De Stijl, color is considered as an important factor which is developed as an instrument in creating a new spatial experience. The goal of the motion is to achieve an excellent future where surfaces that separate men would be broken down. The architects of De Stijl assume that the three-dimensional properties of mass and size is against the goal of the movement, and in order to achieve their goal, these characteristics must be divided by using colors. The technique they used is to place color planes on sides and boundaries, ensuing an alteration in the volume of space. Here, colours were used not just as mere decor, but it also takes on an important part in altering the visual connection with the user spatially.

However, Le Corbusier called vehicle Doesburg' request on color as camouflage architectural and disagreed by using color to weakens the physical space or to conceal its actual spatial proportions.

Villa la Roche, Le Corbusier Opposing the idea, in his work, Le Corbusier colored the entire wall surfaces to make them a person elements, so that it wouldn't normally disturb the spatial aftereffect of the architecture. These coloured surfaces were used as an intervention against the mostly painted white areas in the building. The colors here, as Batchelor commented, was used by Le Corbusier to make his architecture 'even more white'.

Having a new approach along with his two fellows architects, Bruno Taut's intention was to use shade as 'an agent of social reform'. His goal was to create various identities in a huge housing estates, where people from overcrowded flats in the back garden of Berlin will be the occupants of the building. (Komossa, Susanne, 2009)

Although the myth of white appeared shortly after these colour methods were being used, architects such as Louis Barragan emerged into practice and again with the idea of colour as an essential element, opposing the idea of colour as decorations. His selection of colours mostly displays the shades of Mexican culture. Through his works, Barragan proven the way the use of colorings are able to evoke dreamlike and surreal atmosphere. Another renowned 'shade architect' is Ricardo Legorreta. Inspired by the 20th hundred years mural paintings, Legorreta uses many smart colors in his works and demonstrates that colorings can emphasize styles and refuse mass of the complexes.

From time to time, along with the gradual lack of Modern Movements' influence, colour gradually made its way back to architectural design. Herzog & de Meuron, for example, coloured their first house in Basle suburb with blue coating that engages the audience.

Looking at how colorings are being considered deeper in structures nowadays, and exactly how it is constantly being moved from the idea of a mere design to elements that can alter belief of the viewer, the use of colour has achieved another type of condition than it used to be. And in this sense, just as mentioned by Rem Koolhas, " the continuing future of coloring is looking smart. "

Visible Space: Seeing Colour

1. 1 Notion of Space

Perception is a critical connection between real human and their surrounding environment. It can also refer to a more complicated and higher level of pondering process. Perception allows human beings to choose what has been sensed and analyze that discomfort. Beside digesting the information received from the detectors, perception also acts as a filtration that classify important and useful information.

In architectural design, whose works mainly is about the creation of space, understanding of space is nevertheless important. In order to perceive the space, one must firstly sense the area. To sense a space is to become aware of own self lifetime in the area and therefore one can distinguish between your self and the surrounding. This can be done using human senses, that happen to be hearing, viewing, smell, style, and touch. But as we always listen to, " Witnessing is believing", visual perception is very important in shaping perception of space. Here, coloring requires a major role.

1. 2 The attention and the colour

" Take a good look round and you'll observe that everything is colored. " - K. Schippers

Colour, dissolving flawlessly inside our life, may seem as an extremely normal experience. But it actually is a very important aspect in our vision because it plays a huge part in shaping our aesthetic perception. Just what exactly is shade?

Colour, in physics and optics, are defined as component elements of light. Having the ability to see colour permits human see many more various things under the light, contrasting from what might possibly be seen in only hues of gray ( known as monochromatic eyesight). Some animals, such as canines, don't experience color vision. This problem cause they can only just spot other animals, for example rabbits, only if it moves.

The experience of seeing colour will not be possible if not due to assistance of light in our vision. Our sight perceive distinctions in light frequencies in the same way how we understand differences in acoustics frequencies with our ears. While dissimilarities in reasonable frequencies enable us to listen to different pitch, variations in light frequencies permit us to see different color. The colour field that individual perceive amounts from the longest obvious wavelength (red) to the shortest obvious wavelength (violet).

Light, in a variety of wavelength and lighting, enters our sight through a transparent external covering, called the cornea. The received light then will be focused on the back of the surface of the eye. The trunk of the eye is covered by the retina, that have many layers of cells. The coating which is important in shade vision comprise two receptors called rods and cones. Rods permit us to see black and white visions in dim light, while cones allow us to see hues under brighter light condition. Hence, through these series of mechanisms, we're able to see coloring.

Colour and Light

"Architecture is light". For the reason that of light, architecture is seen. In its relationship with shade, light always facilitates colour enabling it to be seen. Both shade and light are essential aspects in creating belief in structures.

Light, enabling colour to be seen, determines the knowledge of the color perceived. The condition of light and the changes it made; its route, form, colour, and its own arrangement; has a potential to make various colour understanding. Considering the possibility of changes in perceiving coloring based on the lighting condition, various sorts of atmosphere might be created. Both natural and man-made lighting is able to be used in assisting color in the area.

The perception of coloring under the sunlight can vary depends on the atmospheric condition. The path of the natural light has to be considered in order to create a desirable colour recognized in space. Direct sunlight can make floors appear lighter, while the indirect sunlight may cause less remarkable shadow casting. Because the sun moves during the day, different varieties of light will be experienced. Different signals will reflect shade differently, causing the same color might be recognized in different ways during different time of your day.

An observation of how light influences the colour recognized has been done by the French Impressionist, Claude Monet, in creating his works. In order to find the visual real truth, Monet often colored the exact same scenes, such as haystacks and cathedral' face, under different lamps condition. Once, he rented a room opposite Rouen Cathedral and spent calendar months there painting the cathedral in different times of your day. It appeared that in full midday sun rays, the facade of the building is washed with yellow metal colour and a slight blue shadow. While at sunset, the top is coloured pale bluish green, with plenty of oranges and reds in the building's recesses.

Colour and Atmosphere: Towards Emotive Architecture

Colour Deceives

The use of coloring is often associated using its capacity in creating illusion. Based on Joseph Alber's e book, Interaction of Shade, colour in visual perception is always never viewed as it really is in reality, which is why he stated, ". . . In order to use coloring effectively it is necessary to discover that colour deceives constantly. . . " The ability of shade in deceiving the audience resulting two types of conditions - the real and the factual. You see, the is the area which is perceived by the viewer, as the factual is the physical space bordered by surfaces the truth is.

The potential of colour to change spatial perception is also written in Itten's examination, " Among cold and warm tones of similar brilliance, the warm will improve and the cold retreat".

By recognizing the potential of colour in conditions of altering belief of space through vision of the visitors, colour has vast opportunities in being utilized as the tool in creating space.

Colour Impacts: Physiology and Psychology

Colour is recognized as an expressive factor and may be used to generate mental response. Studies on how colour can transform people's sentiment has been conducted by people. Dazzling colorings ( warm hues ) fit well for spots requiring tons of activities and mental alertness, therefore these colors tend to be being used in school conditions. While on the other palm, cooler hues tend to quiet people. In his book Concerning the Religious in Artwork, Kandinsky did analysis on the sensory results in color. He found that dazzling and warm colorings attract higher attention and the aesthetic feeling created by these shades generates physical result that " details the soul".

Realizing the probable of shade in altering feeling, people used it as a tool in curing. Chromo therapy, or colour remedy, is the " practice of using coloured light and color in the environment to cure specific illness and in general to bring about beneficial health result " ( Hope and Walch, 1990, p. 75). The study on chromo remedy is dependant on the finding of how our anatomies, performing like prisms, absorb white light and other colours, too. The remedy involves the use of day light that is filtered by having a certain shade of glass. For instance, patient with migraine will be treated with sunshine filtered through blue a glass, and melancholy can be cared for with red light.

Emotive Architecture

Emotive structures, is usually defined as buildings and spots that is purposefully built to provoke emotional response from the users. The idea emerged up from the sensation of too functional structures in the 20th century, which created the area with much reasoning and power.

Case Study

  • Luis Barragan

" In my activity as an architect, coloring and light have always been a crucially important constant. Both are basic elements in the creation associated with an architectural space. " - Luis Barragan

Luis Barragan learned much from the task of Itten who's specialized in the laws of harmony, comparison, and the spatial effect of colors. In his works, Barragan cured colour the same manner as other architectural components and he bravely tests and utilizes its capacity in generating sensations in the area.

His works on The Gilardi House, dwelling of Francisco Gilardi, demonstrated a skillful thought in assisting coloring with light in the space. The technique of the colour used here, such as reaching brighter or softer hues through direct and indirect lamps, using coloured glass to create chromatic atmosphere, has been experimented in his earlier works. Within the dwelling, Barragan extended his experiment in utilizing white light in the space and how it arrived on the colored vertical areas.

A yellow-painted corridor is put nearby the access in order to prepare the journey to the important space. Walking down the corridor, the visitor is confronted with a radiating blue space. The distinction between the warm and cool colour is directed to arrest the visitor's perspective. Visitors then comes out into the space with pool which is surrounded by three primary colours; blue, red, yellow. The whole composition of the space is supported by the colored surfaces surrounding the pool and the reflections created by water.

  • Steven Holl

Famous for his method of utilizing light in the space, Steven Holl is also execute a great deal of experimentations on its relation with coloring. In his work The Chapel of St, Ignatius, for example, Steven Holl used the thought of treating the area like seven bottles of light. Each container is pierced with light which explain each spots inside the building with colored light.

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