Was Alois Riegl Colour Blind?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonCLARA Classical Art and Archaeology. 2022, 9. https://doi.org/10.5617/clara.9806
In his formalist art history, Alois Riegl (1858-1905) focuses on figure and ground, light and dark, and tactile versus optical features. Strangely, he shows little interest in colour. Thus, in Stilfragen (1893) and in Spätrömische Kunstindustrie (1901) artefacts and monuments are discussed as if they were fashioned in black and white. Even when describing mosaics and book illuminations, Riegl refrains from mentioning specific colours. In connection with baroque painting (Die Entstehung der Barockkunst in Rom, 1908) the almost total lack of colour description is even more striking. Although Riegl may have found form to be more objective than colour, and he also relied heavily on black and white reproductions, another explanation for his exclusion of chromatic features could be that he did not see colour well. The article proposes that Riegl may have been among the 8-10 per cent of males who suffer from colour vision deficiency.