Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color
This exhibition was on display from May 11, 2018 to January 13, 2019.
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Color is an illusion, but not an unfounded illusion. —C.L. Hardin, Color for Philosophers, 1988. Color shouts or whispers to us from every corner of our world, saturates nearly every surface we touch. An objective, quantifiable event, color is also a subjective personal experience, different for every person and deeply intertwined with language and memory. Color perception is an elusive, complex phenomenon that is still not fully understood, despite centuries of research by artists and designers, scientists and philosophers. Yet designers deploy color everyday, across an incredibly wide array of media. Used effectively, color helps us to navigate our physical world, organize and ingest information, and make decisions as consumers. Saturated brings together extraordinary rare books from Smithsonian Libraries and compellingly colorful objects from Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection to explore how the sensory experience of color has been conceived by history's greatest color thinkers, visualized with graphic tools and models, and used by designers to bring both order and excitement to our visual world.