ITTEN: Three Attitudes Towards Color



Among painters, I perceive three different attitudes towards problems of color.

First there are the epigoni, having no coloration of their own but composing after the manner of their teachers or other exemplars. (Color sense borrowed from fashion and trend.)

The second group is that of the 'originals' – those who paint as they themselves are. They compose according to their subjective timbre. Though the theme changes, the chromatic expression of their paintings remains the same. (Color sense unique to the artist but not unique to each individual painting.)

The third group is that of the universalists – artists who compose from inclusive, objective considerations. Each of their compositions, according to the subject to be developed, has a different color treatment. That there should be few painters in this group is understandable, for their subjective timbre must comprehend the entire color circle, and this happens rarely. Besides, they must possess high intelligence, admitting of a comprehensive philosophy. (Color sense unique to the artist and unique to each individual painting)

Above painting: Martin Kippenberger.
Text above in Italic is not from original source.


— Johannes Itten, The Elements of Color (1961)