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Color (Theory) in Art

The question of the essence of pictorial art and beauty has been the subject of thought and discussion since ancient times. The philosopher Plato wrote that the result of drawing and painting is “dreams created by man for those who are awake.” He believed the purpose of pictorial art to be imitative, but image making could be either imitative or representing imagination or the fantastic.

Two thousand years, later Kant described the beautiful to be “that which pleases universally without requiring a concept.” He thought that to produce beautiful art required genius; products of beautiful art are a combination of taste with genius. Beautiful art pleases but it also raises feelings of the sublime.

Thinking about the purpose and meaning of pictorial art in human life has continued unabated, but the subject is found too complex to have its essence caught in a few sentences (Hofstadter & Kuhns 1964). An unanswered question is if there are some fundamental processes behind aesthetics or if they are entirely culturally determined. More recently, creation of pictorial art has become a subject of interest to neurophysiologists. Ramachandran (2011), on the basis of ideas of neural processing, is proposing seven aesthetic principles he considers largely independent of culture, thus imposed essentially by nature. The first of these is contrast, minimally required to ...

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