Last time, we talked about Josef Albers. This time, I would like to introduce the second master.
Johannes Itten was a Swiss painter and one of the most important Bauhaus teachers. (He’s also the teacher of the Albers). As the believer of mysticism, Itten developed full-color theory. These theories are borrowed from science and emotion. As in his book The Art of Color:
“He who wants to become a master of color must see, feel, and experience each individual color in its many endless combinations with all other colors. Colors must have a mystical capacity for spiritual expression, without being tied to objects.”
“Color must have a spiritual expression that is sacred and cannot be associated with objects.”
Born in Sudan-Linden, Switzerland, November 11, 1888. He trained as a primary school teacher when he was a teenager. It was the time that he began his exploration of psychology with some students. While living in Vienna in 1916, Itten met Bauhaus founder and modernist architect Walter Gropius. In 1919, Gropius invited this artist and Lyonel Feininger to join Bauhaus and became one of the earliest mentors. After arguing with Gropius about the direction of the school, he left Bauhaus in 1923.
He opened his own school in Berlin. The school was also closed by the Nazi regime a year after Bauhaus closed. Because of his unique views on design, he was appointed dean of the Creefelder Textile School. He moved to Switzerland in 1938 and spent the next few years writing books and teaching design courses.
Itten died on March 25, 1967, in Zurich, Switzerland. The artist’s work is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
Of all Itten’s accomplishments, the most well-known is probably the COLOR WHEEL:
“FARBKREIS ITTEN 1961” BY ZEICHNER: MALTE AHRENS — QUELLE: SELBST ERSTELLT
Itten gave us a color palette consisting of twelve colors (three major, three minor, and six extremes). This color palette shows the relationship between colors and the degree of saturation. He was one of the first to link different colors to specific emotions and to study how colors affect our emotions. He also looked at how individuals perceive colors.
Itten teaches that there are seven different ways to compare: saturation, brightness and darkness, extension, complementary contrast, simultaneous contrast, tonal contrast, and contrast between warm and cold colors. He had a unique way of teaching, first looking at abstract works, extracting colors from them for analysis, then asking them to study realistic works, and finally applying what they had learned about color theory to their understanding of classical works.
I hope the study of these two masters would be helpful for your use of color in your designs.
Thanks for reading ❤