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David Batchelor

Chromophobia (also known as chromatophobia or chrematophobia) is a persistent, irrational fear of, or aversion to, colours and is usually a conditioned response. While actual clinical phobias to colour are rare, colours can elicit hormonal responses and psychological reactions.


In his book Chromophobia published in 2000, David Batchelor says that in Western culture, colour has often been treated as corrupting, foreign or superficial. Batchelor states that aversion to colour can be traced back to Aristotle's privileging of line over colour.


The central argument of Chromophobia is that a chromophobic impulse – a fear of corruption or contamination through colour – is found in Western cultural and intellectual thought. This is apparent in the many and varied attempts to purge colour, either by making it the property of some ‘foreign body’ – the oriental, the feminine, the infantile, the vulgar, or the pathological – or by relegating it to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential, or the cosmetic.


David Batchelor analysis the motives behind chromophobia and seeks out positive views on colour.

Herman Melville - Great White Whale

‘L. Frank Baum - The Wizard of Oz

Jim Lambie

These are positive reinforcements on colour used in the book.


This book goes against the Western philosophical tendency to attack, revile, or belittle colour. For this I am in awe because it is so rarely seen, as colour especially the excessive use of is seen as kitsch and not very good. It has almost gone out of fashion [though it is making a slow come-back] and people seem to extensively question the use of colour.

Moby Dick burnham shute
jim lambie zobop
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