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The Secret Lives of Color

Kassia St. Clair
# UM8042 Hardcover, 320 pages; 2016
Currently Unavailable
This gorgeously produced book is a "paintbox" full of cultural history. Kassia St. Clair, a brilliant writer/researcher and vivid storyteller, creates a "character sketch" for seventy-five individual shades—from lead white, saffron, puce, and dragon's blood to cobalt, avocado, sepia, and pitch black—revealing each one's fascinating history in art and beyond. In the pretty pages (each tinted at the edge with the hue being discussed), you'll learn about the iconic "moon gray" of Apple keyboards, the white-lead cosmetic "Spirits of Saturn" that paled (and killed) women for centuries, the original practice of "whitewashing" something unpleasant, the reason why nannofossils can be found in Old Master paintings, and the name scientists gave to the color of the universe as a whole: "cosmic latte." And that's just the whites! The chapter on yellows begins with Oscar Wilde and a full-blown scandal…and don't even get me started on reds! This enchanting book is a unique, kaleidoscopic gem, sure to delight history buffs and artistic souls alike. (CH)
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