There are two types of primary colors: additive and subtractive. The subtractive primaries (CMYK) are made of pigment and become darker when combined, while the additive primaries (RGB) are made of light and become brighter when combined. In this formulation, Yale University Press’s new expanded edition of Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color is distinctly additive, brightening the corners of this influential classic and broadening it to a two-volume slipcased set.
With colored bindings inspired by one of Albers’s lessons, these volumes operate in concordance: one carries the text, the other an expanded set of 145 plates created by the artist and his students. The reworked design brings Interaction of Color closer to its original 1963 edition, which, according to Nicholas Fox Weber, the executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, was a “set of unbound folders […] heavier and larger than anything Yale University Press had ever published.”
Once again more suited to a museum patron’s coffee table than an art student’s backpack, this comprehensive set changes our interaction with Interaction, insisting we clear a space, spread the book of plates beside Albers’s descriptions, and learn the act of seeing color afresh. In lesson after lesson, Albers shows the mutability and pliancy of color as a creative material, how it is changed by the colors surrounding it, by the time we spend looking at it, by its distance from our eye, and by our eye’s own imperfections as a perceptual apparatus.