The Work of Living Art: A Theory of the Theatre

By Adolphe Appia; Barnard Hewitt et al. | Go to book overview

4. LIVING COLOR

WE COULD have named this chapter living light, but that would have been tautology. Light is to space what sounds are to time--the perfect expression of life. For the same reason, we did not need to speak of living music, but only of a musical time that can be translated into space. Color, on the contrary, is a derivative of light; it is dependent thereon, and-- from the scenic point of view--dependent in two distinct ways. Either the light takes possession of and becomes one with the color, in order to diffuse it in space, in which case the color shares the existence of the light itself; or the light is content to illuminate a colored surface of an object, in which case the color remains attached to that object, receiving life only by virtue of the object, and through variations in the light which makes it visible.

Color, in the first instance, is ambient, pervading the atmosphere, and--like the light--taking part in movement; consequently, it bears a direct and intimate relation to the human body. In the second, color can act only by opposition and reflection; if it moves at all, it does not move of itself, but only with the object which reflects it. Therefore, though its life is not fictitious, as in painting, yet it is totally dependent. A red tapestry, brusquely pushed aside, is involved in a movement; but it is not the red color that moves--it is the tapestry, from which the color is inseparable. The same quantity of the same color, hung on the panel of a door, would follow the passive and clumsy movement of the door. Such an effect with a moving tapestry-- often an important one--is the result of the flexibility of the colored material, and not essentially of that of the color itself.

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The Work of Living Art: A Theory of the Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books of the Theatre Series iii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Adolphe Appia and "The Work of Living Art" xi
  • Preface 1
  • 1. the Elements 3
  • 2. Living Time 19
  • 3. Living Space 25
  • 4. Living Color 31
  • 5. Organic Unity 38
  • 6. Collaboration 59
  • 7. the Great Unknown and the Experience of Beauty 68
  • 8. Bearers of the Flame 79
  • Designs 83
  • Adolphe Appia's "Man is the Measure of All Things" (protagoras) 123
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