Chair: Barbara Kerwin, Drawing from the Inside Out; Los Angeles Mission College
Simultaneous contrast is a term coined during color studies at the Bauhaus (Germany, 1917-1933), a school of art that embraced new concepts in reductive painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture and crafts. It was this innovative setting that simultaneous contrast was discovered. Often referred to as the “after image”, causing a visual vibration and seen on the closed lid of the eye after prolonged viewing, as a reversal of the two complements, simultaneous contrast occurs when the brain reverses two opposing (complementary colors) that are seen in use near to one another. This phenomenon with its observed visual vibration led many Mid-Century artists to explore its dynamics by employing color complements near each other in their paintings. Simultaneous contrast is credited to Josef Albers (Bauhaus master, 1925-1933), and also involves Johannes Itten’s color displacement observations (Itten, Bauhaus master, 1919-23). The Color Theory Program at the Bauhaus led the way into a whole new era of thinking about the physics of color in art.
We will explore this phenomena and its use in masterworks occurring with this dynamic concept, exploring its inception with Itten and Albers, through the mid-Century with Guston, Rothko and the optics employed by Albers’ Yale student, Julian Stanczak among others, into contemporary times.