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Distributed for Reaktion Books


The Art and Science of a Colour

Distributed for Reaktion Books


The Art and Science of a Colour

Blood, rust, lava, wine—the flush of passion and the glow of approaching night—no color arrests our attention more than the color red. Today it is the flag of danger and seduction, of spirit and revolution, but throughout nearly all of human history it has held a special place in our aesthetics. In this book, Spike Bucklow brings us into the heart of this fiery hue to better understand the unique powers it has had over us.
Bucklow takes us from a thirty-four-thousand-year-old shaman burial dress to the iPhone screen, exploring the myriad of purposes we have put red to as well as the materials from which we have looked to harvest it. And we have looked for it everywhere, from insects to tree resin to tar to excitable gasses. Bucklow also details how our pursuit of the color drove medieval alchemy and modern chemistry alike, and he shows us red’s many symbolic uses, its association with earth, blood, and fire, its coloring of caves and the throne rooms of goddesses, as well as national flags, fire trucks, power grids, and stoplights.
The result is a material and cultural history that makes one see this color afresh, beating with vibrancy, a crucial part of the human visual world.   

240 pages | 100 color plates | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Art: Art--General Studies

Cognitive Science: General Works

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“Part material history, part cultural inquiry, Bucklow’s fine book traces the origins and applications of the reds that have surrounded us since humans first sought to apply the color to their habitats and their bodies. Above all it reminds us that red is never a simple matter. Red is mysterious and it is fugitive: often difficult to make and to make fast, it is equally slippery in the human imagination. From red mists to red herrings by way of red lines and red rags, it is perhaps the most unquiet and unsettling colour of all.”

David Batchelor, author of the Luminous and the Grey

Table of Contents

                Animal Reds
                Eastern Trees
                Fruits of the Earth
                Mysterious Reds
                Reds for a Better Life
                Brave New Reds
                Crossing the Red Line
                Red Meanings
                Red Earth
                Red Blood
                Red Fire
                Red Passions
Photo Acknowledgements

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