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The Colour Code


How many colours are there? In the West we see seven, but the Chinese see five, while the Piraha tribe in the Amazon have no words for the spectrum. Colour isn’t something we see; it’s something we think. In this popular culture miscellany, Paul Simpson takes eleven key colours and explores how they have shaped our evolution as a species, persuaded us in politics and culture and allowed us to express or oppress personal freedoms. His book investigates such issues as the shifting gender of pink, the poisonous potential of green, the decadence of yellow, the performance-diminishing impact of grey and the ways in which orange has shaped power in Europe.

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SKU: 9781781256268 Category: Tags: ,


How is The Colour Code different to other books on colour? Well, the short answer is that it is a whole lot more fun – not least because it is extensively illustrated. We don’t just get a story about Mummy Brown (the pigment made from Egyptian mummies), we see a painting created with pigments from the remains of French kings. We are reminded of the blue/gold dress that swept Twitter, view paintings by Mondrian (red ones sell for higher prices) and Van Eyck (he invented an enduring green), and inspect the red soles of Louboutin shoes.We see what lumps of Indian yellow look like, while reading what they are made of (strained cow’s urine). We get to see the latest most vibrant pigment – YinMn Blue – and have a real estate agent’s tour of Frank Sinatra’s ranch (he was obsessed by orange). We see William Morris’s arsenic-inflected wallpapers and hear about whether wallpaper killed Napoleon. We encounter the pink pussy hats worn on the Women’s March and Elvis’s pink jackets from Lansky’s in Memphis, take in a history of the black dress from Audrey Hepburn to Princess Diana and a rare black chicken (even its eggs are black) from Indonesia. Featuring a cast of actors, artists, chemists, composers, dentists, dictators, fashion designers, film-makers, gods, musicians, mystics, physicists, poets, quacks, tigers and tycoons, The Colour Code will change the way we all perceive the spectrum – and see the world.

Additional information

Weight 0.58 kg
Dimensions 19.6 × 12.8 × 3 cm










535.6 (edition:23)


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