Readymade color at MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art’s “Color Chart”explores what happens when contemporary artists assign color decisions to chance, readymade source, or arbitrary system. Midway through the twentieth century, long-held convictions regarding the spiritual truth or scientific validity of particular colors gave way to an excitement about color as a mass-produced and standardized commercial product. In the NYTimes, Karen Rosenberg reports that “the show is a rejoinder to the notion of color as the province of formalists, and to the idea that Minimal and Conceptual art comes only in shades of black, white and gray….Ms. Temkin�s thesis owes much to the British artist and writer David Batchelor, whose book ‘Chromophobia’ (2000) is a thorough and witty cultural history of color, including in its thematic discussions ‘Heart of Darkness’ and the movie version of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Regrettably, photographs from Mr. Batchelor�s series ‘Found Monochromes of London,’ a visual diary of white rectangles glimpsed during his daily travels, have been tucked away near the museum�s sixth-floor bathrooms. As Mr. Batchelor writes: ‘The color chart divorces color from conventional theory and turns every color into a ready-made. It promises autonomy for color; in fact, it offers three distinct but related types of autonomy: that of each color from every other color, that of color from the dictates of color theory, and that of color from the register of representation.’ In other words, we are far from Goethe�s ‘Theory of Colors’ and from the deceptive relationships of Josef Albers�s homages to the square.” Read more.

Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today,” organized by Ann Temkin. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Through May 12.
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