By his optic experiments in the 17th century, Newton showed that the familiar colours of the rainbow could be produced by visible light when it is bent via a prism. With his experiments Newton not only rejected Aristotle’s view that colour comes from an object and is a property of light(von Goethe, 1810). He created the context for ‘colour vision’.
In spite of his pioneering work with colours, I consider Newton’s view of colours as pretty limited. Fortunately, several artists have broadened the view of colours with their experimentations. Simultaneous contrast presented by Chevreul showed out that perceived colour is often different from the physically measured colour. The experiments of impressionist such as Monet and post-impressionist such as van Gogh and Matisse, expanded the colour vision even further by setting the mood and sensation ahead of realism. (Cage, 1999; Petty, 2011)
After the experimentations of artists, colour vision isn’t only something that can be measured: It’s also something that can be perceived, felt, or even smelt. Like freshly cut grass in a beautiful spring morning.
Cage, J. (1999). Colour and Culture.
von Goethe, J. W. (1810). THEORY OF COLOURS, translated. Retrieved August 12, 2011, from http://www.compilerpress.ca/Competitiveness/Anno/Anno%20Goethe.htm
Petty, Margaret. (2011). Colour: abstraction, perception and modernity. Lecture hold on August 10 at Victoria University of Wellington.