The Luminous and the Grey

Batchelor, David. 2014. The Luminous and the Grey. London: Reaktion Books. ISBN 9781780232805 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

Colour is a given of most people’s everyday lives, but at the same time it lies at the limits of language and understanding. David Batchelor’s previous book for Reaktion, Chromophobia, addressed the extremes of love and loathing that colour has provoked since antiquity. This book charts more ambiguous terrain.

The Luminous and the Grey is a study of the places where colour comes into being and where it fades away, an inquiry into when colour begins and when it ends, both in the material world and in the imagination. Batchelor draws on a wide range of material, including neuroscience, philosophy, literature, film and the writings of artists; and makes use of his own experience as an artist who has worked with colour for more than twenty years.

After considering the place of colour in some creation myths, in industrial chemistry, in recent thinking on optics and in the specific forms of luminosity that saturate the modern city, the book culminates in a meditation on the unique colour that is also a non-colour, a mood, a feeling, an existential condition and even an insult: grey.

Item Type:



colour, grey

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



1 February 2014

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Date Deposited:

31 Oct 2018 11:01

Last Modified:

03 Jun 2020 11:45


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