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CT&D #6. The Formal Elements

One of the formal elements of art is color. Based on supplemental reading excerpts from Matisse and Kandinsky, compare and contrast these two modern artists’ ideas about color and uses of color. What are your thoughts?

After reading about both Matisse’s and Kandinsky’s excerpts on color, I can definitely say that each of their views on color and its uses are interesting to observe and compare and contrast to. Starting with Matisse, I learned that he associates colors with feelings in which if he were to paint or draw an image of a certain environment or concept (like a season) only his mood towards such is translated to art.

In other words, Matisse does not draw upon on or remember what traditional colors are usually associated with a given environment; it is only personal experiences that influence his choice in colors and even their tones. I happen to somewhat agree with this because if one was to envision winter in a work of art, my usage of color based on my feelings would be totally different from someone living in the tundra where winter’s harshness could compel one to evoke winter as dark and miserable mood.

Additionally, Matisse states that he is “forced into interpreting nature” as it represents character in truthfulness (tying into last week’s discussion, “is art a lie?”). Here, Matisse says that there should be a “living harmony of colors” based on his observation that some of the lesser prominent colors in a work of art are still present but are hard to be seen as a result of their blending with the background/other colors. I also somewhat agree with this because looking at the color spectrum, an image with a diverse amount of color has to feature every one of its kind (whether a given color is blended with another, or if it is in lighter contrast than the other, etc.)

Kandinsky, in one sense, is similar to Matisse regarding his views on the feelings of color. However, the approach is very different. Kandinsky claims that the more used to we get towards seeing and living with a certain color, the more we identify with it; sometimes through experience. He goes on to elaborate that if one has had an experience with associating a given color with an emotion (i.e. the color of red/orange on a hot object which thereby causes pain to be felt from), one can ultimately “sense” color and appropriately apply it to a theme from one’s soul.

Furthermore, Kandinsky asserts “color is the means of exerting a direct influence over the soul;” what he means by this is that one’s feelings and mood can be drawn from pairing associated colors with a given object. Some colors can even be objectified in tone, shade and physique (smooth or rough, sharp or not) in which the latter can be related to in everyday life as we can feel an object physically.

Overall, I like the views of each artist on their interpretation of color. Most of all, I like how the artists fully acknowledge the presence of all colors in the spectrum by trying to relate it to the real world (Kandinsky) and observing that in almost any case, all colors are present (Matisse). Having all colors present in any object or environment seems to make sense since colors are the reflection of an object according to Isaac Newton (in the text). Therefore, if an object or environment shows certain colors more prominently than others, it doesn’t mark the absence of what we think is missing, at least that’s what I think.

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