On Vision and Colors

Front Cover
Princeton Architectural Press, Feb 15, 2010 - Architecture - 168 pages

During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, two of the most significant theoretical works on color since Leonardo da Vinci's Trattato della Pittura were written and published in Germany: Arthur Schopenhauer's On Vision and Colors and Philipp Otto Runge's Color Sphere. For Schopenhauer, vision is wholly subjective in nature and characterized by processes that cross over into the territory of philosophy. Runge's Color Sphere and essay "The Duality of Color" contained one of the first attempts to depict a comprehensive and harmonious color system in three dimensions. Runge intended his color sphere to be understood not as a product of art, but rather as a "mathematical figure of various philosophical reflections."

By bringing these two visionary color theories together within a broad theoretical context philosophy, art, architecture, and design this volume uncovers their enduring influence on our own perception of color and the visual world around us.

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About the author (2010)

Georg Stahl was born in 1937 in Hoorn, the Netherlands, where his parents had fled to in 1930 from Germany in order to avoid arrest and persecution by the Nazi regime. After graduating high school, he worked as an ironworker, during which time he met architect Gerrit Rietveld. After graduating as an architectural engineer in 1963 he entered the office of Rietveld as an apprentice architect. Stahl worked in Germany and Switzerland, prior to leaving for the U.S. to continue his studies. His interest in Schopenhauer came about by suggestion of Rietveld to his questions as to whether any color theory or system had been an influence on Rietveld's use of color in architecture. He graduated in 1972 with a Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign, and moved to Chicago where he still resides. He worked for a several architectural offices, dedicating much time to research, teaching, and art consulting; taught mural painting and architecturally related art from 1975 until 1981 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and conducted extensive research on the Chicago street-mural movement. In 1981, for SOM (Chicago), he acted as technical consultant and artistic coordinator for a 24'x 25'x 2" solid laminated stained glass window designed by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, fabricated by the Dutch company of Tetterode, and executed in Mexico City. Following the Tamayo project, he continued work as a Principal Designer, while collecting research material for what would become the Rietveld-Schopenhauer project.

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