Matters of Color/Color Matters

Graphic design showing a gray circle set in the middle of rectangle that has rainbow gradations of color. Words are lightly printed on the gray circle  reading 1er cercle chromatic de M. Chevreulr les couleurs franches." Diagonal white lines radiate out from the perimeter of the circle across the colored field.

Monday, November 7, 2022 - 12:00am to Sunday, April 23, 2023 - 12:00am
Sterling Memorial Library, Exhibition Corridor
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Please join us for a Curators’ Talk on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 4:30–6 pm in the Wall Street Exhibition Corridor of Sterling Memorial Library with student curators Liam Hannigan ’25, Jennifer Le ’25, and Whitney Toutenhoofd ’25.

This exhibition draws on a course offered in Yale’s Department of the History of Art in fall 2021, which explored color in various disciplines and applications. Two questions emerged: What is color? Is color just color? The exhibition’s title—contrasting “matters of color” with “color matters”—distinguishes the technical from the conceptual.

The section “Matters of Color” addresses how color can be explained objectively. Yale Library’s special collections house scientific texts and models that illustrate the history and development of color theory. These objects—from the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Haas Family Arts Library, and the Medical Historical Library of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library—address the technical aspects of color as a foundation for the application of color theory in a wide range of contexts, including medicine and astronomy.

“Color Matters” investigates meanings derived through color. Personal experiences and biases often influence interpretation. Black/white/red/yellow labels may evoke preconceived notions of race. The color orange may evoke childhood memories or signify a political figure. Blue may suggest divinity, holiness, and purity. This section draws on symbolic, interpretive, and expressive uses of color in the collections of Yale Library, the Yale Center for British Art, and Yale University Art Gallery.