Color Problems

by: Emily Noyes Vanderpoel

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Color Problems: A Practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color / ISBN 9780999609934 / 396-page paperback, about 5.5 x 7.5 inches, from Sacred Bones Books (who also published the nice reprint of Thought Forms)

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"Despite the history and visual wisdom detailed in her color guide, the tome never received the audience it deserved." – This is Colossal

"A watercolorist of some reputation, Vanderpoel penned this exacting investigation of chromatic perception and the intricate kinship between colors decades before Josef Alber's landmark text Interaction of Color...Vanderpoel illustrated her treatise with over a hundred presciently modern grids, each of these Mondrian-like schemes demonstrating how, for instance, 'hues grade softly into one another from edge to heart,' or how 'if two unbroken masses of the same quantity of strong color are put side by side the result may be unbearable."--Bookforum

"The plates display an aesthetic decades ahead of its time…. her pared-down, geometric way of expressing color is nothing short of remarkable."--from the article "This Forgotten Female Artist Taught Us Everything We Know About Color" in Surface Magazine

Emily Noyes Vanderpoel (1842-1939) was an artist, collector, scholar, and historian working at the dawn of the 20th century. Her first and most prominent work, Color Problems: A Practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color, provides a comprehensive overview of the main ideas of color theory at the time, as well as her wildly original approaches to color analysis and interaction. Through a 21st century lens, she appears to stumble upon midcentury design and minimalism decades prior to those movements.

Lined with 116 remarkable color illustrations, this abstract and poetic book is being properly reprinted for the first time since 1903.

Emily was a remarkable and tenacious academic mind. Alongside a rigorously studied examination of the principals of color theory, her gridded Color Analysis works predict abstract art movements, while her quiet experiential Color Note watercolors denote a particular sensitivity to time and place.

Emily's principal motivation was to make color theory available to every person, not just artists or people in graphic trades. Her idea that homemakers and everyday people could benefit from a better understanding of color was a radical democratization of a perviously niche discipline.

Sacred Bones has teamed up with longtime collaborator The Circadian Press to reproduce and distribute this seminal text.