Seeing Colour

A Journey Through Goethe's World of Colour

Nora Löbe, Matthias Rang and Troy Vine; Foreword by Arthur Zajonc

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Quick Look

  • Brings Goethe's pioneering colour research up to date, making it accessible to colour enthusiasts and experts alike
  • Explores numerous phenomena, including colour mixing, afterimages and prismatic colours, through ingenious experiments and straight forward explanations
  • Generously illustrated with over 250 colour photographs

A fascinating journey through Goethe's world of colour, explaining phenomena such as polarisation colours and coloured shadows. This is a lavishly illustrated book and is essential reading for anyone intrigued by light and colour.

240 x 208 mm
Floris Books
Philosophy of the Natural World; Philosophy of Human Life
colour illustrations
176 pages
Publication date:
29 Sep 2022


Colour is everywhere. From blue skies to red sunsets, from the first flowers in spring to the blazing leaves of autumn. But what is the nature of colour? Scientific books present a variety of mechanical explanations but this approach leaves colour as a whole unexplained. In the nineteenth century, the German poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe investigated a wide range of colour phenomena and discovered the underlying principles that govern colour itself.

This lavishly illustrated book brings Goethe's pioneering research up to date. Through descriptions of simple observations and ingenious experiments, the reader will discover a series of colour phenomena that includes afterimages, coloured shadows, colour mixing, and prismatic and polarisation colours.

Seeing Colour is a thought-provoking read for colour enthusiasts and experts alike, and an accessible route to a new way of seeing colour.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Arthur Zajonc
1. Sight and Image
2. Colours Arising From the Eye
3. Colours Arising From Colourless Media
4. Colours Arising From Coloured Media
5. The Complementarity of Colour Experiments
6. Sight and Coloured Light
7. The Order of Colours
The Experiment As Mediator Between
Object and Subject by J. W. von Goethe
A Bibliographical Essay on Goethean Approaches
to Colour Science
Picture Credits


Nora Löbe studied painting in Dortmund, Germany and in Dornach, Switzerland before developing and building touring exhibitions on Goethe's theory of colour. She is currently a freelance artist and also works at the Swiss Science Centre Technorama in Zurich, Switzerland.

Matthias Rang studied physics in Freiburg, Germany and Berlin before becoming a visiting researcher in the field of nano-optics at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. He received a PhD from the University of Wuppertal, Germany and carries out research on Goethe's theory of colour in relation to physical optics at the Goetheanum, Switzerland, where he currently co-leads the Natural Science Section.

Troy Vine completed a PhD in particle physics at University College London with research undertaken at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, USA. He is currently doing a PhD in philosophy at the Humboldt University of Berlin with a thesis focussing on methodology and ontology in the colour investigations of Descartes, Newton, Goethe and Wittgenstein. Vine is currently an Associate Researcher at The Field Centre, near Stroud, UK.

Arthur Zajonc is a renowned physicist, respected author and Emeritus Professor of Physics at Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA. Zajonc has written extensively on Goethe's science work and is author of Catching the Light, co-author of The Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe's Way of Science, among many other books.

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