Emily Noyes Vanderpoel (1842-1939) was an artist, collector, scholar, and historian working at the dawn of the 20th century. Her first and most prominent work, Color Problems: A Practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color, first published in 1901, provides a comprehensive overview of the main ideas of color theory at the time, as well as her wildly original and artistic approaches to color analysis and interaction. Through a 21st century lens, she appears to stumble upon midcentury design and minimalism decades prior to those movements.
She was a visionary color theorist whose methods were later adopted by men and became ubiquitous in design curriculums around the world. She was an incredible artist and creative champion whose pioneering work is conspicuously absent in nearly all history books. We aim to change that with this new presentation of her seminal work. In addition to presenting the original book in an accessible softcover, we are offering a beautifully bound hardcover edition exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign. This deluxe facsimile version will not be made available again.
Her remarkable inventiveness shines in a series of gridded squares, each 10 x 10, that analyze the proportions of color derived from actual objects, many of which were in Vanderpoel's vast collection of ceramics and antiques. She leaves her process relatively mysterious but what is clear, as historian and science blogger John Ptak notes, is that Vanderpoel “sought not so much to analyze the components of color itself, but rather to quantify the overall interpretative effect of color on the imagination”. Her square format predates Josef Albers’ iconic Homage to the Square by some fifty years.
This incredible book has long languished in antiquarian book markets. Original copies trade hands for more than $500 and it has never received its proper audience. We aim to change that, and with this new edition have taken meticulous measures to reproduce the original artifact at an affordable price. Largely disserved by the public domain, this vast 400 page book has been reproduced in recent years by shoddy print-on-demand services, from academically held PDFs and most tragically, only in black and white. Working with the Historical Society that Emily Noyes Vanderpoel helped establish, we are the first to invest the time, money, and love it takes to replicate this brilliant collection of color studies accurately. Using the most current digital methods and archival printing production, we aim to finally do justice to Vanderpoel’s forgotten legacy as visionary and pioneer.
We will also be contributing an introduction written by design scholar Alan P. Bruton, who has been researching Vanderpoel and her work for decades. This introduction will serve to reflect on her incredible body of work from the vantage point of 21st century art history and women's movements, helping to illustrate that Vanderpoel remains one of the most important, underrated, and contemporarily relevant artists of her time and of the last century.
"Thoroughly conversant with the best scientific research of her day, Emily Noyes Vanderpoel brings an artist’s eye and designer’s sensibility to her prescient study of color. From embroidery and Persian rugs to ceramics and painting, her perceptive analysis reveals what was long hiding in plain sight. The remarkable illustrations are actually works of art that not only anticipate but actually compete with the best work of some of the most important twentieth-century artists."
Mark C. Taylor
"Vanderpoel’s delightfully inscrutable work is an artifact from out of time: abstract modernism born of the Victorian need to classify everything—even the mundane. This book inspired me, and deserves this beautiful new treatment in print."
Liza Daly Author and creator of the Vanderbot
"This re-edition of Emily Noyes Vanderpoel's 1901 Color Problems is a fantastic addition to the library of literature that celebrates the wonders of visual experience. The writing is elegant, the information profound. How can we resist a book that opens with an exegesis on various elements of color in nature and on bird songs and Beethoven and declares "We may aptly term color the music of light"? The book is both a celebration and a lucid guide: to issues of luminosity and color temperature, and of harmony as well as contrast. And it is a compact dynamo of the history of color theory up to the time of Vanderpoel's writing. The many color plates are magnificent, both in the pleasures they provide and the magic they demonstrate; I feel safe in saying that Josef Albers would have been gobsmacked by this glorious volume."
Nicholas Fox Weber
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
In order to produce the beautiful objects you will receive as a backer at such an accessible price we need funds for printing and binding a large run. We aim to print at least 1000 copies, and our goal reflects the production costs for this amount, but the more pledges we get here the more we can print! As an established (although relatively young) publishing company we already have storage and distribution methods streamlined which will make for a seamless experience for our backers.
We also plan to spread the word of Vanderpoel's forgotten work as far and wide as we can. We need your help in righting this historical wrong. Tell your friends about Emily Noyes Vanderpoel! They will no doubt be as happy to discover her and her work as we have been.
PDF - Each backer will receive a download of our high resolution color corrected PDF of the book. We poured months of work into this using the original book as a source. We are delighted to share this exclusive presentation with you!
Bookmark - This elegant handprinted bookmark comes with every copy of the book. It is printed in metallic gold ink on acid free paper.
Softcover Book - This printing of Color Problems includes a thoughtful selection of paper stocks. Like the original, the text portion of our edition is printed on a soft uncoated natural stock. The 116 color plates are printed on a bright white coated paper stock to best display colors. The interiors will be offset printed with close attention to color reproduction. The book includes sewn signatures for long term durability and lay flat binding for ease of viewing. The cover is foil stamped and includes a vibrant slipover belly-band. We have taken careful measures to ensure all aspects of the production are of the highest quality.
Kickstarter Exclusive Hardcover Book - The deluxe cloth-bound Kickstarter Exclusive Edition comes with the same interiors bound into a deluxe foil embossed boards and an alternate belly-band. Like the original book, this Exclusive Edition includes a square compositional viewer and translucent filters tucked in the back. These filters allow the reader to interact with the art works and the world around them in a truly interactive way, and help illustrate some of Vanderpoel's most ingenious ideas about the perception of color. This Deluxe presentation of the book will only be available to backers of this campaign.
Artist Print - This beautiful 12"x18" Fine Art print of COLOR ANALYSIS FROM A BUTTERFLY is executed in-house at The Circadian Press. This handprinted edition allows us to present this ingenious work in larger form with detail unavailable in commercial printing. This print is a Kickstarter exclusive, extremely limited worldwide, and will last generations.
Suite of Artist Prints - These beautiful 12"x18" Fine Art prints are executed by hand at The Circadian Press. This suite of 4 prints aim to illustrate the breadth of Emily's visionary ideas and allow us to present some of her most ingenious works in larger form with details unavailable in commercial printing. Using specialty inks and 100% Cotton paper, these extremely limited editions will last for generations.
WE HAVE REACHED OUR STRETCH GOAL!
One of our favorite details of the original Color Problems printing is the gold and silver metallic pantones that are included in several of the color analyses. You can see an example below of the use of these metallics and the special beauty it adds to the page. We have funded our stretch goal and now we can afford to include these pantones in every copy of the book that we make, both hard covers and soft covers! The original book has 12 pages with these metallic colors and our printing will honor this exactly in CMYK+2 printing.
Risks and challenges
The main risk in approaching this project was to reproduce the colors exactly as they were originally printed. We have worked with the most advanced digital technology to capture and color correct the images to replicate the images exactly.
The printed galley seen in the video was not printed with the color corrected files and does not represent the final production values. The final product will be color correct and professionally offset printed on the highest quality papers to ensure the best and most accurate viewing experience for the reader.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)