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Surv Ophthalmol. 2001 Mar-Apr;45(5):407-15.

The dilemma of color deficiency and art.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


No "major" painter is known to be color deficient. Are there truly no color deficient artists, or have they not been recognized? The historical literature cites criteria for recognizing color deficiency in artists, but they are hard to apply without knowing the intentions of an artist. The work and commentary of a color-deficient artist who works currently in Paris are presented as an example. He uses a limited palette of colors, based on advice from colleagues as much as his own perceptions, and he uses colors in ways that do not always fit with expectations for color deficiency. Biographies of earlier painters suggest that there were a few whose color sense was poor, but these painters used assistants to help. The color sense of others, such as the English landscape painter John Constable (1776-1837), has been questioned because of a preponderance of suspicious color, such as murky green. However, there are good reasons to doubt that Constable was color deficient. It is instructive to know how proven color deficiency has influenced an artist's style. When medical information is unavailable, the best advice for the diagnostically-inclined observer is just to enjoy the art.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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