Was Vincent van Gogh Colorblind?
Tags: Color Theory, Colorblindness, Paintings, Post-Impressionism, Van Gogh
Kazunori Asada, a Japanese medical scientist, has hypothesized that Vincent van Gogh was colorblind — a theory that would explain the artist’s use of clashing, often discordant colors.
Asada was incited to explore the theory after visiting a “Color Vision Experience Room” in Hokkaido, which provides visitors with the opportunity to experience vision as a colorblind person does.
To test his theory, Asada used a piece of software that filters light to simulate various degrees of colorblindness. Asada settled on a midrange spectrum deficiency to apply to several of van Gogh’s paintings, a process which subtly but significantly changed the overall color effect of each work: the reds became softer, the blues less notable, and the yellows muted to the point of drab.
Take Wheat Field behind St Paul Hospital with a Reaper, for example. The reds and oranges of the original (left) dissolve into something of a golden yellow, and the pink in the mountains becomes virtually indistinguishable. The effect (right) is much more in line with what you’d expect from a person with normal vision.
Kyle Chayka at BLOUIN Artinfo challenges the theory, reminding Asada that one of the commonalities among Post-Impressionist artists, including Paul Gauguin and André Derain, was an “unorthodox” pairing of colors.
You can see examples of Asada’s findings in his essay posted online.
[via BLOUIN Artinfo]
Photos courtesy of Asada’s Memorandum