Color is a formless optical appearance that is created by light. It is one of the basic elements of painting. As a color medium, paint is the primary and traditional material used in painting. Originally produced from natural pigments (e.g. obtained from plants and minerals) and binding agents such as oil, it is commonly produced today with the use of chemicals. The invention of the paint tube in 1841 gave artists an unprecedented degree of mobility, allowing them to venture out of their ateliers and workshops to create their works.
The use of paints enables the artist to represent other objects made of other materials and to create the illusion of their presence. This representation of other objects long deflected the attention of artists from the value of paint as a material in its own right. It wasn’t until the modernist period that artists began to examine the means of representation in general and the materiality of paint in particular. The various properties of paint and its relationship to various substrates as well as to the light and space around it emerged as a new realm that was to be explored in practice. New concepts appeared that attempted to dissolve the link between paint and substrate and to separate color perception from color body in order to permit an appreciation of color as an immaterial phenomenon. We find approaches that attempt to extend the range of color to the space occupied by the beholder and approaches that use color fields to extend the image-based depths of color. In both cases, we experience color realms that dissociate our perception of color from the materiality of the paint or lead us beyond it.