At the risk of sounding too general, I’m going to assert that color is the most immediate thing that people respond to when looking at paintings– consciously or subconsciously, and it's often the first thing that gets commented on. (Subject matter and technical ability probably tie for second.) Admittedly, I didn’t do any research that can back this statement up, so I’m open to debate on the topic.
The use of color within a painting is akin to the use of melody in a song. Every painting uses pigment in some way. Every song has some sort of melodic structure.
That being said, I think that to base an exhibition strictly around color is a tough thing to do given it's broad range, but the Asheville Art Museum has taken on the challenge with their newest exhibition, Color Study. The exhibit juxtaposes local artists alongside modern art masters and there some brilliant paintings in this show like Nava Lubelski’s stunning Chance of Flurries and Constance Humphries gestural painting, Swing.
I tend to think the exhibit strays a bit from its initial concept, and it could have offered more challenging explorations of color. It’s surprising that not a single piece by Josef Albers is included in the show given the fact that Albers literally wrote the book on color -- Interaction of Color.
Nevertheless, as I wrote in this article for the Mountain Xpress, Color Study is an excellent primer for those who have never contemplated the use of color in art, and there are some wonderful pieces on display that should not go unseen.
Color Study will be on display at The Asheville Art Museum until November 6th.