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Color Science and the Visual Arts: A Guide for Conservators, Curators, and the Curious

Roy S. Berns

“A curator, a paintings conservator, a photographer, and a conservation scientist walk into a bar.” What happens next? In lively and accessible prose, color science expert Roy S. Berns helps the reader understand complex color-technology concepts and offers solutions to problems that occur when art is displayed, conserved, imaged, or reproduced.

Berns writes for two types of audiences: museum professionals seeking explanations for common color-related issues and students in conservation, museum studies, and art history programs. The seven chapters in the book fall naturally into two sections: fundamentals, covering topics such as spectral measurements, metamerism, and color inconstancy; and applications, where artwork display, painting materials, and color reproduction are discussed. A unique feature of this book is the use of more than 200 images as its main medium of communication, employing color physics, color vision, and imaging science to produce visualizations throughout the pages. An annotated bibliography complements the main text with suggestions for further reading and more in-depth study of particular topics. 

Engaging, incisive, and absolutely critical for any scholar or student interested in color science, Color Science and the Visual Arts is sure to become a key reference for the entire field.

Roy S. Berns is the Richard S. Hunter Professor in Color Science, Appearance, and Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology, home to the Munsell Color Science Laboratory and the only doctoral program in color science in the United States.

“A well-balanced and informative contribution to the literature on color science as it relates to the arts. . . . The book’s greatest strength, though, is its potential to guide museum professionals in communicating about color with the public, and congratulations to Berns are merited for the text’s rare and valuable ability to engage directly with a 'curious' audience.”
—Kari Rayner, Art Inquiries

“Bridging the gap between chemistry, mathematics, psychology, art conservation, art history, and the fine arts, Color Science and the Visual Arts provides an unparalleled look at the way these discipline intersect and how the science of color relates to the display, creation, and reproduction of works of art.”
Art Libraries Society, North America

“Berns delivers . . . by providing novel and clear explanations of how colour is perceived in and around an artwork. [This book] provides an excellent introduction for students of conservation or any field dealing with the presentation of art objects. It is also a valuable source for anyone wishing to review or update their understanding of (mostly) painted surfaces, their display and reproduction. The text is intended to be an accessible, go-to source and succeeds.”
Art Libraries Journal

264 pages
8 x 10 inches
325 color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-481-8

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute