Martin Gayford

Speaker: James Fox

Topic: The Art of Colour

Venue: Ondaatje Lecture Theatre, Radcliffe Centre

Time: 12:00-13:00, Sunday 9 October

Talk Summary:

In a fascinating history which ranges across space and time, James Fox takes seven primary colours – black, red, yellow, blue, white, purple and green – and uncovers behind each a root idea, based on visual resemblances or properties that are common to all societies. He guides us through a number of milestones in the history of art – from the Bronze Age to the works of Turner, Titian and Yves Klein – all of  which cumulatively tell another, larger one: a history of the world from the black nothing which preceded existence to the birth of our red-blooded species; the gilded gods who animated the world in antiquity to the blue horizons that framed the Age of Discovery; the pristine aspirations of the Enlightenment, the technicolour innovations which fuelled the Industrial Revolution and the colour which most embodies the environmental crisis that we confront today.


Dr James Fox is an art historian, writer, curator and broadcaster. He is Director of Studies in History of Art at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Director of Education at the Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park in Canada, and President of the Stanley Spencer Gallery. His television broadcasts include the BAFTA-nominated British Masters (2011), the RTS-nominated A History of Art in Three Colours (2012), and The Art of the Image (2020). His latest book is The World According to Colour: a Cultural History (2021). He is currently working on a book about British art.