Artist Talk Goethe’s Theory of Colors in Art

Excerpt of Goethe's “Kantenspektrum” Dr.-Ing. S.Wetzel alias PrismaNN or Analemma

Tue, 01/15/2019

Goethe Pop Up Kansas City

Goethe in the Crossroads
1914 Main Street
64108 Kansas City, MO

Presentation by Tanya Kelley, PhD, followed by open discussion

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at age 79 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at age 79; painting by Karl Joseph Stieler; public domain While the namesake of the Goethe Pop Up Kansas City, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), is widely known as a German poet who wrote Faust, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and others; he also devoted a great amount of his effort to science. He spent eighteen years producing what he considered his most prized work, Theory of Colors, a portrayal of color phenomena published in 1810. Goethe emphasized the utility of his color theory over Isaac Newton’s, and others appear to agree.

The installation Haze/Trübe by the Chicago-based artistic collaborative Luftwerk, currently on display at the Goethe Pop Up, is one of many art pieces that use Goethe’s Theory of Colors. Tanya Kelley will speak about Goethe’s color science and show how his color theory is used in art.

Tanya Kelley, PhD, is a painter and adjunct professor of German. Her work includes research, conducted at Linda Hall Library, about color and species nomenclature (Dissertation title: World to Word: Nomenclature Systems of Color and Species). The New Yorker featured her research on color systems. She is also currently writing on art and species in collaboration with James Prosek, an acclaimed naturalist painter.