In 1839 a French thinker by the name of Eugene Chevreul published a text with the intimidating title, "Principles of Harmonies and Contrasts of Color and Their Application to the Arts". Sure makes ME want to run out to my friendly neighborhood Barnes and Noble and grab a copy! Well, despite it's less-than-glamorous title, the book found a readership. More than that, it influenced an entire generation (several actually) of painters, rewriting the book, so to speak, on color in art. It was the first scientific exploration of what color is, and more specifically, what color DOES in art.

For centuries color had intimidated artists. Art had always had it's basis in drawing, not in painting. Paint was something you used to color your drawings. In French academic circles in fact, there developed a sort of mini-war between the "Poussinistes" and the "Rubenistes", or in other words, drawing versus color. Drawing was controlled, logical, structural, and was able to accurately create order in a work, replicating the order of nature itself. Color, on the other hand, was unnerving. It confused order, dispersed space, and was best used only in moderation.

Claude Monet, however, showed us that color could be use to understand nature when applied in an accurate and disinterested manner. He demonstrated that it can disperse volume, or in broader applications, create the impression of pattern, in competition with drawing conventions such as perspective, and as a result, could radically alter one's appreciation of illusionistic space. Going a step further, picking up where Monet left off, Georges Seurat invented Pointilism, placing tiny dots of pure color next to one another, letting the eye blend them into glimmering images of lucent beauty. Today, we spend hours and hours enjoying Seurat's dots and Chevreul's color theory. It's called color TV.