The Secret Lives of Color

The Secret Lives of Color

Book - 2017
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"The unforgettable, unknown history of colors and the vivid stories behind them in a beautiful multi-colored volume The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book, Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of color tell the vivid story of our culture. "A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every color has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking."--Simon Garfield,author ofJust My Type"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2017
ISBN: 9780143131144
Branch Call Number: 155.9114 ST. CLAI
Characteristics: 320 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm


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Dec 27, 2018

Five orpiment stars! This is a book for anyone interested in colour and history. It is a series of well-written (and colour-coded) short stories about hues that pique the curiousity: gamboge, puce, saffron, heliotrope.

Jun 21, 2018

I am recommending this book to all my friends who think they no longer have time for a good book. Each short chapter stands alone and they are all thought provoking.

JudyK_KCMO Jun 18, 2018

How is color defined? How did different hues get their names and where did they come from?
Author Kassia St. Clair explores the color spectrum from white to black. Shades go in and out of fashion throughout the centuries. Pigments come from plants, chemist experimentation or just plain luck. This fascinating history will make one look at the varies tints in everyday life with a new set of eyes.

SkokieStaff_Steven Jan 23, 2018

What happened to the survivors when a boat containing red dye collided with a boat containing brown dye? They were marooned. Oddly enough, this hilariously funny joke does not appear in Kassia St. Clair’s “The Secret Lives of Color,” nor, for that matter, does the color maroon. However, she doesn’t leave much else out in her richly learned collection of short, mostly historical essays on colors. (Is it any wonder that someone named “Kassia St. Clair” should have a regular column in “Elle Decoration,” the seedbed for this book? She also writes for the "Economist,” so go figure.) One of the themes running through this book is that for almost all of human history, colors used for painting or dying were usually rare, expensive, difficult to produce, or even toxic (just ask Napoleon about his arsenic-laced green wallpaper). We now live in a world awash in color, and that’s something we should never take for granted. St. Clair reminds us how far we have come.


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Jan 08, 2019

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