In 1673 French art critic Roger de Piles argued that colour is the sole thing that makes painting unique, distinguishing it from the other arts and sciences all of which exist in monochrome. This challenged a core tenet of the Academy and helped reignite an old debate regarding the respective value of drawing and colour, both philosophical and material.
Four centuries later painting has changed dramatically through countless movements and countermovements in a way that de Piles could not have anticipated. But is it still a valuable and uniquely positioned discipline for exploring our understanding of colour?
Until recently I wasn’t convinced, but a series of events led me to reconsider my thoughts on the value of value as an attribute of colour and, in turn, colour’s role in creating form and space in a painting.
In this paper I will discuss some of the historical examples and personal experiences that led me to this re-evaluation, and how this has recast my post graduate research.