The Artist's Palette presents modern and contemporary works on paper—prints, drawings, and photographs—in which artists emphasize one of the three primary colors: blue, red, and yellow.
Color theory is an important tool in the art world. Artists use colors to represent emotional states; notions of identity; political and religious affiliations; and events and holidays. Colors also correspond to temperature: Red and yellow are warm, whereas blue is cold. In addition, some artistic processes are associated with specific colors.
Blue, red, and yellow are unique because they cannot be created by mixing other colors. All other hues, however, derive from them. The basis for understanding color comes from Sir Isaac Newton, who—upon passing a beam of white light through a prism in the 17th century—discovered that light separates into seven bands of color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Newton then developed the first color wheel, which reveals their respective relationships.
Drawn from the MFAH collections, the works on view in The Artist’s Palette are arranged by color, emphasizing the full spectrum of expressive possibilities within each hue.