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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Color: Theory, Terminology, and Symbolism: Theories, Systems, Treatises

A resource guide on color theory, color symbolism and meaning

Theories, Color Ordering Systems, Treatises

Munsell Color Tree
Source: Munsell Color Studies

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Color theories, color order systems or treatises are often referred to by their author, listed here in parentheses after the title. These books are located in the circulating collection on the Library's 1st floor. Second copies, first editions or special editions of many titles are housed in Special Collections on the 2nd floor.

See also: Color Order Systems in Art and Science


Art of color : the subjective experience and objective rationale of color (Itten)

Color harmonies (Garau)

A color notation (Munsell) See also:  Munsell company website;   RIT Munsell Color Science Laboratory

Color ordered: a survey of color order systems from antiquity to the present (an historical survey)

Elements of color : a treatise on the color system of Johannes Itten (Itten)

Faber Birren collection on color in the art library (Birren)

Forms of color : the interaction of visual elements (Gerstner)

Interaction of color (Albers) iPad app

Modern chromatics; students' text-book of color : with applications to art and industry (Rood)

Natural Color System (Swedish Colour Centre Foundation)

Primary colors: three essays (Theroux)

Principles of color: a review of past traditions and modern theories of color harmony (Birren)

Principles of harmony and  contrast of colors and their applications to the arts (Chevreul)

Secondary colors: three essays (Theroux)

Theory and Use of Color (De Grandis)

Theory of Colours (Goethe)

Treatise on Paint (Maimeri)