Illusory Depth Based on Interactions Between Fluorescent and Conventional Colours: A Case Study on Frank Stella’s Irregular Polygons Paintings

in Art & Perception
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Although Frank Stella intended to create flat, illusion-less Irregular Polygons paintings, it is not uncommon to experience the illusion of colour depth, based on the interaction between their fluorescent and conventional colours. Some critics praised these artworks’ flatness, while others described odd depth experiences that they categorised as a new kind of illusion. In order to provide a correct reading of these works and to reassess their art historical significance, a scientific case study regarding this colour-depth effect imposes itself. This article discusses an experiment in which we determined whether twenty artists, twenty art historians and twenty laypeople experienced fluorescent colours as protruding, receding or flat in combination with conventional colours. We additionally looked at whether they still perceived colour depth when all fluorescent colours were replaced with their conventional variants. All participants observed fifteen designs, which they had to rate according to the perceived depth of each coloured region with a number between −3 (strongly receding) and +3 (strongly protruding). The results revealed that most participants experience fluorescent regions as strongly protruding, unlike all conventional colours, which were rated as much less protruding. When a fluorescent colour was swapped with a conventional variant, all participants experienced significantly less depth. The differences between the subject groups were statistically negligible when looking at the mean depth ratings for both colour types. However, we discovered that artists experienced more contrast effects, as they gave different ratings to different panels (of identical colour and shape) in the same design, depending on their position.

Illusory Depth Based on Interactions Between Fluorescent and Conventional Colours: A Case Study on Frank Stella’s Irregular Polygons Paintings

in Art & Perception

Sections

References

Aach H. (1970). On the use and phenomena of fluorescent pigments in paintingLeonardo 3135138.

De Winter S. (2014 ). Interview with Frank Stella unpublished interview transcribed. Peter Freeman Gallery New York NY USA (January 20th 2014).

Edwards A. S. (1955). Effect of color on visual depth perception. J. Gen. Psychol. 52331333.

Fried M. (1965). Three American Painters exhibition catalog. Fogg Art MuseumHarvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Fried M. (1966). Shape as form: Frank Stella’s new paintings. Artforum 51827.

Gregory R. L. (1980). Perceptions as hypotheses. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 290181197.

Gregory R. L. (1990). Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing4th ed. Princeton University PressPrinceton, NJ, USA.

Itten J. (1970). The Elements of Color. John Wiley & SonsNew York, NY, USA.

Johnston-Feller R. (2001). Color Science in the Examination of Museum Objects: Nondestructive Procedures. Getty Conservation InstituteLos Angeles, CA, USA.

Judd D. (1965). Specific ObjectsArts Yearbook87482.

Kennedy B. P. (2010). Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons 1965–66 exhibition catalogue. Hood Museum of ArtDartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA.

Krauss R. (1968). On Frontality. Artforum 54046.

Krauss R. (1971). Stella’s new work and the problem of seriesArtforum 104044.

Lejeune A. (2015). Perspective et Géométral — Problématisation de la Sculpture aux États-Unis (1966–1973) Les Presses du Réel Dijon France.

Litt S . (2011). Frank Stella’s luminous “Irregular Polygon” series is reunited at the Toledo Museum of Art. https://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2011/04/frank_stellas_luminous_irregul.html. [accessed May 2018].

Little A. (1965). Shades of meaningColor Eng. 34.

Little A. (1966). Shades of meaningColor Eng. 435.

Livingstone M. (2002). Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing . Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY, USA.

McGlinchey C. and Pratt E. (2000). Exploring boundaries in painting technique. MoMA 369.

Rose B. (1967). American Art since 1900 ; A Critical History. Praeger Publishers New York, NY USA.

Rose B. (1967). Abstract illusionism. Artforum (October 1967) 3337.

Rubin W. S. (1970). Frank Stella The Museum of Modern ArtNew YorkNY, USA.

Stella F. (1986). Working Space Vol. 40. Harvard University PressCambridge, MA, USA.

Streitel S. G. (2009). Fluorescent pigments (daylight). Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical TechnologyJohn Wiley & SonsNew York, NY, USA.

Toledo Museum of Art (2011). Masters Series: An Evening with Frank Stella https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9qL6XVtPZM [accessed May 2018].

Van Gelder H. (2003). The instantaneous grace of a split-second glance: A modernist myth of timelessness revisited in: The Enduring Instant: Time and the Spectator in the Visual Arts Roesler-Friedenthal A. and Nathan J. (Eds) pp. 127133. Mann VerlagBerlin, Germany.

Van Gelder H. (2004). The fall from grace. late minimalism’s conception of the intrinsic time of the artwork-as-matterInterval(les) 18397.

Vos J. J. (2008). Depth in colour, a history of a chapter in physiologie optique amusante. Clin. Exp. Optom. 91139147.

Figures

  • View in gallery

    Original paintings and the designs based upon them. Stimulus designs based on Frank Stella (© Stefanie De Winter), Irregular Polygons series (1965–66) (Note 6). (A) Effingham I (1966), fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas, 325.12 × 335.28 × 10.16 cm, Van Abbe museum, Eindhoven (© SABAM Belgium 2018); (B) Chocorua IV (1966), fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas, 304.8 × 325.12 × 10.16 cm, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA (© SABAM Belgium 2018); (C) Union I, fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas, 261.62 × 441.96 × 10.16 cm, Detroit Institute of Arts, MI, USA (© SABAM Belgium 2018); (D) Sanbornville III (1966), fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas, 264.16 × 370.84 × 10.16 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (© SABAM Belgium 2018).

    RGB value of each conventional colour used in the designs: (A) yellow: 254 222 0, blue: 0 115 204, orange: 255 138 92; (B) yellow: 254 222 0, red: 224 35 87, grey: 179 182 189, dark green: 64 124 125; (C) pink: 255 122 186, yellow ochre: 250 213 115, pistachio: 235 255 247; (D) grey-blue: 73 193 170, green: 25 158 66, cream yellow: 237 224 142.

  • View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery

    (a) Impression of the setup of the experiment in the Academy of Berchem (© Stefanie De Winter); (b) impression of a participant observing the stimulus during the experiment (© Stefanie De Winter); (c) an example of the questionnaire (see Appendix for enlarged version).

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings of all fluorescent and all conventional colours, for each participant group. Error bars indicate +/− 2 SEM.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings of all fluorescent and all conventional colours, for art historians only and as a function of their knowledge of Stella’s work. Error bars indicate +/− 2 SEM.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings of all fluorescent and all conventional colours, for each colour separately. Lines indicate the fitted regression line of the model summarized in Table 4. Shaded areas depict the 95% confidence interval around the fitted regression lines.

  • View in gallery

    (a) Mean depth ratings for all conventional colours; (b) mean depth ratings for all fluorescent colours. Error bars indicate +/− 2 SEM.

  • View in gallery

    (a) The proportion signed rating for each conventional colour separately, divided in three groups (artists, art historians & laypeople); (b) the same, but of each fluorescent colour separately.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings of warm and cool floors for fluorescent and conventional colours and all participant groups. Error bars indicate +/− 2 SEM.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings for all panels in the Effingham I design group.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings for all panels in the Chocorua IV design group.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings for all panels in the Union I design group.

  • View in gallery

    Mean depth ratings for all panels in the Sanbornville III design group.

  • View in gallery

    (a) Matrix of visualized contrast effects for Effingham I; (b) matrix of visualized contrast effects for Chocorua IV; (c) matrix of visualized contrast effects for Sanbornville III.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 22 22 22
Full Text Views 6 6 6
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0