Twelve wooden doll bodies painted in the 12 Goethe colours. These little people can live anywhere.
Goethe's Color Theory
Goethe disagreed with Newton. He refuted the idea that color was determined solely by light and the color spectrum, instead arguing that color was shaped by perception as well as elements of light and darkness. In these arguments, Goethe became one of the first people to systematically explore color and color theory, the study of how colors are perceived and how they interact with other colors. Unlike Newton, Goethe argued that color needed darkness, and some colors were made with elements of darkness. Here is how Goethe described it: 'Light and darkness, brightness and obscurity, or if a more general expression is preferred, light and its absence, one necessary to the production of color . . . color itself is a degree of darkness.'
Scientifically, Newton was right. But Goethe's theories were more art and philosophy than pure science. And, if you think about it, there are differences between how color is created via the visible spectrum (where white is the combination of all colors) versus with pigments (where the more colors you mix together, the darker a color you get). In a way, it was pigments, or colors in paint, that led to Goethe's color experiments, so it's not surprising his ideas differed from those of Newton.
Goethe's Color Wheel and Views on Colors
Goethe created his version of a color wheel and arranged the colors according to what he called their natural order. He also explored the impact of colors on emotions and attributed different qualities to certain colors. If you look closely at the color wheel, starting in the area with red and working down to yellow, you can see the word schön, which means beautiful; edel, which means noble; and gut, which means good. Each word corresponds to a section on the wheel.
In Goethe's theory, yellow as the color nearest to the light, was bright and exciting. It stood for good. Red stood for gravity, dignity and attractiveness or beauty. Blue, on the other hand, was powerful, but in a slightly negative way- creating a cold impression.