November 19, 2022 – March 5, 2023

Join us for an exploration of the surprisingly rich history of pigments and dyes and their impact on art and culture. The story of color, and the search for ever more vibrant pigments, is a fascinating one, tying into biology and human evolution, alchemy, philosophy, chemistry, exploration and colonial exploitation, language and cultural meaning-making and artistic expression.

Most of us take for granted the dazzling array of hues available to us in everything we see, buy and surround ourselves with. That easy availability is a recent development, however. For most of history brilliant colors were expensive, rare and hard to get. Sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic, the story of how pigments and dyes have been sought after, traded, fought over and accidentally discovered is a window into our wider human story.

Chromatopia will feature more than 30 objects drawn from the Lyman Allyn’s own collection as well as from other museums and private lenders. Among the range of objects telling the stories of color from prehistory to the present will be ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts, late medieval illuminated manuscripts, 15th century Chinese ceramics, 17th  and 18th century Flemish oil paintings, 19th and 20th century European and American paintings, and traditional Australian Aboriginal bark paintings. Works by modern artists, such as Josef Albers, Richard Anuszkiewicz and Gene Davis, will be featured, as will new works by artists using color in interesting ways, including Carson Fox, Patricia Miranda and Porfirio Gutiérrez.

Color inspires us, affects our mood and shapes how we see the world. Chromatopia asks the question, color is all around us, but what do we really know about it?

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