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CHROMA by Derek Jarman


by Derek Jarman

Pub Date: March 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-87951-574-0
Publisher: Overlook

Full of anger, wit, emotion, and knowledge, this collection of essays by one of England's premier filmmakers informs and astounds. Using color as the base for an exploration of science, art history, social mores, and the passage of his own life, Jarman (Modern Nature, 1994, etc.), who died in February 1994 of AIDS, covers a broad swath of contemporary life in this book. Written in a succession of thoughts, quotes, and poems, Chroma reveals a life involved with art since early childhood. Each essay is devoted to one color and its attendant emotion. White is pure but dead; red is strong; brown is demure and warm. Through these emotional responses, the history of the author's relationship with color unfurls—from his childhood love of flowers and his time at art school to his films (Wittgenstein, Blue, etc.), all of which are influenced by the hues they assume. The text fluidly diverges into discussions of the science of color, the artists and scientists engaged in it, and color's various uses from the classical world through today. Those familiar with Jarman's work will recognize the essay entitled ``Into the Blue'' as the text of his final film, Blue. With a new introduction that links it with the rest of the text, ``Into the Blue'' is the climax of the collection. In it, all of Jarman's rage and humor are truly expressed. In struggling with his own illness, the author faces the irony of an artist going blind, losing his most vital connection with his work and surroundings. And though strong on their own, the other pieces in the book are made brighter and more resonant in light of this essay. Immensely powerful, this is the final testimony to a life of art and vision.