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Chroma

A Book of Color

2010
Author:

Derek Jarman

Chroma

A meditation on the color spectrum by Britain’s most controversial filmmaker

The clarity with which Derek Jarman offered up his life and the living of it, particularly since the epiphany—I can call it nothing less—of his illness was a genius stroke, not only of provocation, but of grace.

Tilda Swinton

From the explosions of image and color in Edward II, The Last of England, The Garden, and Wittgenstein, to the somber blacks of his collages and tar paintings, Derek Jarman has consistently used color in unprecedented ways. In his signature style, a lyrical combination of classic theory, anecdote, and poetry, Jarman takes the reader through the spectrum, introducing each color as an embodiment of an emotion, evoking memories or dreams.

Chroma

One of England’s foremost filmmakers, Derek Jarman (1942–1994) wrote and directed several feature films, including Sebastiane, Jubilee, Caravaggio, and Blue, as well as numerous short films and music videos. He was a stage designer, artist, writer, gardener, and an outspoken AIDS and queer rights activist in the UK and the United States. He is the author of several books, among them Modern Nature, available from the University of Minnesota Press.

Chroma

Chroma, with its rich blend of the philosophical and the personal, the arcane and anecdotal, is a further reminder of Jarman’s artistic vision.

The Times (London)

Chroma is a book with ambitions to be a poem, a diary, an autobiography, a gay manifesto, a contribution to art history, a confession and a color chart . . . In Chroma, white is the color of the cliffs of Dover, as well as a young man’s sperm . . . Red is the color of itchy blotches that AIDS sufferers want to scratch, the color of blood, stop signs, Mrs. Jarman’s lipstick. Blue, as we already know, is the color of the infinity that awaits the dying man.

The Sunday Times (London)

‘I know my colors are not yours,’ Jarman writes. ‘Context changes the way we perceive them.’ just as the context of the writing of this book invariably turns it from an amusing bricollage to a gesture of extraordinary generosity, a tribute to the continuing need to create and communicate on the very edge of darkness.

The Financial Times (London)

The clarity with which Derek Jarman offered up his life and the living of it, particularly since the epiphany—I can call it nothing less—of his illness was a genius stroke, not only of provocation, but of grace.

Tilda Swinton

The writing is choice, precise, and shows a wonderful inquisitive mind, one that is not only painterly, but scientifically, if not philosophically inclined.

RALPH

Newly re-released by the University of Minnesota Press, this slim, thought-provoking volume plays with color, memory, and culture. . . . Jarman’s writing will encourage the reader to asses their own relationship to color and memory. It’s a beautiful journey, and a gift that Jarman was able to document it before his death.

PopMatters

The book is glorious, odd, moving, personal and universal at the same time. Crack it open regularly and often; some shiny new fact about color will readily pop out.

Salon.com