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The craftsman
Volume XXX, Number 2 (May 1916)

Herter, Albert
The value of "clean" color in decoration and its effect upon the emotion,   pp. 125-129 PDF (1.6 MB)


Page 125


]fECRAFTSMAN
  #    PUDUM BY THE CRAFTSMAN PUBLISHING CO.
           VOLUME XXX  MAY, 1916  NUMBER 2
  THE VALUE OF "CLEAN" COLOR IN DEC-
  ORATION AND ITS EFFECT UPON THE
  EMOTION: BY ALBERT HERTER
LMOST the first requirement of good color is that it
should be "clean." For several generations back all
freshness of color or character seems to have been
regarded as alarming. I never have been able to
understand just why a brown ambiguity, vagueness
in point of view, in theory and expression should have
been acceDted as a virtue. Whnether it is because the
first people who came to America came to escape the punishment usu-
ally meted out to people who have convictions, and in the natural
order of things their descendants have reacted from the state of
mind that makes pioneers, it is hard to say; but certainly we have
managed in the past to produce an unconvincing type of civilization-
our houses nondescript, our people mongrel, our art sense without
vivid relation to country or individuality, provincial, in fact.
   We have almost grown to feel that color was vulgar, even though
we may have recovered from the Puritan point of view which regarded
it as sacrilegious-the poor Puritans who in a new, radiant country,
grayed off light at every angle. It is only very recently that we
have lost our fear of brilliancy and purity of color, that we have
dared to have "clean color" in our architectural ornament, in our
gardens, fabrics, pottery, and really only within the last year or two
that we have grown to appreciate it in furniture. And yet there is
no more powerful force for peace and delight or for irritation and
depression than color, and whether it is somber in itself or in its
combinations, matters little in its power to depress and to render
uncomfortable. Of course, there are times when sober color may be
used, as there are times when sinister or gay and humorous colors may
be introduced in interiors, but there is no time when color should be
so depleted and anvmic that it ceases to excite any emotional reaction
whatsoever.
i  It seems very possible to make combinations, as I have tried to do
in fabrics, where there is what painters call broken color throughout,
giving to the surface, however gray, a luminous quality. This is
125


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