Polly Apfelbaum and Durham Press have completed a series of six prints titled Color Excercises, Apfelbaum's first project with the Press. The screenprint series is published as an edition of sixty, with the exception of the largest print, Somber and Luminous, which is an edition of thirty-five. Ranging in size and paper type, these prints contain up to twenty-four impressions in twelve colors.


    Color Exercises provides a contemporary interpretation of color charts and diagrams found in the 1839 book De la Loi du Contraste Simultané des Couleurs - The Law of Simultaneous Contrast of Colors - by French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul. Chevreul's book was one of the first systematic studies of color perception, exploring complimentary and contrasting colors and their visual effects. This theory is illustrated in the book through diagrams that combine colors in different ways to show how their interact with each other influence our perception of them. Color Exercises draws upon this book through its direct translations of Chevreul's diagrams or expansions of his theories.

  • De la Loi du Contraste Simultané des Couleurs systematically demonstrates how colors influence each other when placed adjacently, showing the...

    Polly Apfelbaum | Color Exercises: Simple and Binary


    De la Loi du Contraste Simultané des Couleurs systematically demonstrates how colors influence each other when placed adjacently, showing the brain's role in our perceptions. This color shift is illustrated in Simple & Binary, an image Apfelbaum has drawn directly from the text. In this print, the same six colors are placed in three different environments by interchanging the two additional colors of their adjacent dot or background. Following a single line, we see a shift from light to dark, warm to cool, despite the color remaining constant.


    Somber & Luminous further explores this phenomenon­­. Expanding an incomplete diagram Chevreul included inhis book, this print juxtaposes these same eight colors in a similar manner to Simple & Binary, though in this exercise the six colors have also been placed adjacent to each other. The diagram reveals how a warm red is influenced by a cool blue, or shifts when surrounded by gray. This manipulation reveals the vast possibilities contained in a single color, all through a simple adjustment in their surroundings.


    Apfelbaum’s later editions with Durham Press, alongside her larger practice, continue to play with color theory. Just as Apfelbaum experiments with the same six colors in Somber & Luminous and Simple & Binary, in her Sun Target and Target Practice, series Apfelbaum has placed the same inner target rings against a variety of different backgrounds. As these constant rings interact with warmer or cooler colors, light or dark, they too appear to fluctuate. From her Targets to Nirvana to Heart and Soul, Color Exercises acts as the foundation from which these prints are built on, artfully using color as the main subject of her work.


    For more information on Color Exercises or other of Apfelbaum's many prints with Durham Press, please contact us at sales@durhampress.com.