Library staff recommendation: The Color Revolution

Monsanto Plastics color chips
An array of chips showing the range of plastic molding compound colors available from Monsanto


The Color Revolution / Regina Lee Blaszczyk.
Greenfield Open Stacks 658.823 B613c

This fascinating book looks at the behind-the-scenes story of the people and industries behind color and consumers’ interaction with it. Blaszczyk writes in her introduction: “We cannot truly understand designed objects or technological systems outside of their historical, industrial, technical, social, and cultural contexts. This is especially true of managed color, a modern technology that was developed through a drawn-out process and carried out by countless actors and gatekeepers.” (p. 19) This is a story of chemistry and dyeing, art and of science, haute couture, department stores, taste-making, paint colors, and printing, told from Blaszczyk’s point of view as an historian and sociologist.

There is also a great deal of local color in this book: Philadelphia was a huge manufacturing center of textiles and chemicals, including dyeing, and the DuPont Company is featured prominently in the content. Of even more local interest is a UArts alumna, Mary Elizabeth Hallock Greenewalt. Greenewalt was deeply interested in the relationship between music and color, and believed this to be a new art form that she called Nourathar. Greenewalt graduated in 1893 from the Philadelphia Musical Academy, which is now the UArts School of Music. The UArts Music Library holds Greenewalt’s book, Nourathar: The Fine Art of Light Color Playing, in its Special Collections, and Greenewalt’s papers are held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania at 13th and Locust.

Greenewalt seated at one of her inventions


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