In a new Yale University Press podcast episode, author Kelly Grovier talks about her new book, The art of color: the history of art in 39 pigments. “Pigments are the syllables in which art speaks,” Grovier writes in the book. “To understand what they say, it may be helpful to trace their discovery and follow the gradual accumulation of connotations over time. Where etymology is about establishing the genesis and evolution of a word, perhaps one could call the approach pursued here, consisting in mapping the emergence of a given pigment in order to appreciate more deeply its significance in a given work, something analogous: artymology.”

In the podcast, Grovier talks about the history of bone black, ultramarine, mummy brown, Indian yellow, and more. It convincingly demonstrates that reconstructing the forgotten myths and little-known scientific discoveries behind the creation of specific pigments can help us understand in new ways how the colors of a given work of art affect us and ultimately enrich our art experience. It’s a new approach to the history of color, and Grovier presents an exciting search for intriguing and unusual stories; in his story, the connotations of a color are never fixed but constantly evolve.

Listen “Understanding art through the history of pigments” and learn more about