Venice and the Architecture of Colour-Form
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Venice and the Architecture of Colour-Form book
Stokes opens the second chapter of Colour and Form (1937), the third and last book on art of his great 1930s period, in the early spring landscape of Hyde Park with a passage that presages release from its dark claims:
Then comes the day of early spring. The air of that day is liberal, a liberality that has been veiled, obscured, overpresSed and finally forgotten in the winter. We had forgotten that the skies may open: the tent of winter is asunder; the clouds sail. On this day as you approach Hyde Park the great elm trees stand up black. It is as if the sooty tunnel of winter has passed them through: they stand in the stronger light a vibrant memorial of the dim months. 1Often dense, or daringly allusive, Stokes's writing is never loose: the black trees against the bright spring skies stand as a sign of conquest over the dark forces of the park, of reparation to the 'destroyed mother' that the park represents. This passage compacts the salient symbols of Stokes's theory of colour, which draws on a line of thinking traceable through Goethe and Alberti to Aristotle. For Stokes, colour is an unfolding that occurs between the polarities of light and dark, poles that are both ethical and tonal: 'The true colourist', he maintains, '[brings] light and dark to some kind of equality, [...] not, indeed, by eliminating their difference, but by utilizing the inter-compensatory relationships of colour.' 2 In this chapter I want to examine the grounds of this theory of colour — what he significantly termed the 'architecture of colour-form' — chiefly in the setting of Venice.