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334 Books The majority of books on colour are written either for those who are interested in colour science or, in a different style, for those who are interested in the visual art. Those in the first category tend to be difficult for non-specialists to read and their sections on the relevance of colour knowledge to the visual arts are usually notable for their obsolescence, their naivety or their absence. Those in the second category tend to be vague, even misleading in their treatment of colour science, however excellent their understanding of the visual arts. Three famous exceptions to this rule, written by Goethe, Chevreul and Rood in 1810, 1839 and 1879 respectively, are still in print and referred to by art students. Although these works are of historical importance, they are, of course, hopelessly out of date. Recently, important advances have been made in colour science, and the need for a readable book that treats the relevance of these advances for visual artists has become urgent. At last, a slim book written especially for artists and designers that tackles this difficult task has appeared. Agoston is exceptionally well qualified to unite colour science to art and design. Beside being Assistant Editor of Leonardo he is both a chemical engineer and a painter. His modestly expressed aim is 'to present a comprehensible discussion of certain technical topics and recent developments in color science that I believe are of real interest to artists and designers'. After an excellent historical introduction, he discusses clearly the characteristics of colour and contemporary ideas about its perceived attributes. There then follow chapters on light as colour and on coloured materials, including colour matching and colour mixing. This leads into a lucid description of the Commission Internationale de I'Eclairage (C.LE.) system of colour specification and of the ways in which it can be applied. The concluding chapter entitled Color Systems, which describes the principle ways of classifying, scaling, ordering and naming colours, is of especial interest to artists and designers. Agoston writes with simplicity and clarity. The book contains a number of original features that deserve special mention. The author has boldly decided to explain contemporary methods of colour measurement and specification entirely by the use of graphs and diagrams, without any accompanying mathematics. The more important equations are reserved for the Appendix. Particularly interesting are the four colour plates in which small colour sample discs have been used to illustrate the chromaticity limits of coloured pigments and the changes that occur with pigment mixtures. Also extremely useful are the numerous very well thought-out tables that, for example, correlate the Inter-Society Color CouncillNational Bureau of Standards (ISCC-NBS) (U.S.A.) colour names with Munsell notation. The contents are of general interest either to artists or to designers who wish to have a clear but succinct explanation of the most recent developments in colour science. However, in addition, the contents are specifically relevant to those artists and designers who wish to specify or to systematize their use of colour. lt should be read by students of industrial design, textile design and graphic design, for instance. I have one or two trivial criticisms to make, for example, as it is a short book filled with useful reference information, it should have been produced in the right shape to fit in a coat pocket. Also, the loose screen for viewing colours in the aperture mode, which is a very good idea, has a hole that is slightly too big. However, these small points are far outweighed by the importance of its text, which is, I believe, a 'Rosetta stone' for colour users and, I hope, an augury of better uses of colour. If this book is read and used as widely as it should be, then perhaps a second impression in paper-back will appear. Color and Human Responses: Aspects of Light and Color Bearing on the Reactions of Living Things and the Welfare of Human Beings. Faber Birren. Van Nostrand Reinhold, London , 1978. 168 pp., illus. £8.35: Reviewed by Lawrence Wheeler* *Dept. of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, U.S.A. The 68 pages of text of this book...


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