Devices for Representing Space

Color and Value: high value and warm colors appear closer; low value and cool colors appear further away. Raoul Dufy did not introduce overlapping, a variation in detailing or mathematical perspective in his Regatta, 1934. So, how do we perceive some objects being closer and others further away?





What attracts our eyes first? The white triangles which suggest sails. Why? Because they are bright white - high value. What else attracts our eyes?

The small patches of red and yellow - warm colors. What things seem to recede into the distance? The green flags, blue sky and water - cool colors and low value. Dufy has created a painting in which objects move forward or backward, attract our eyes or not, solely based on color theory. 


Hieronymus Bosch’s The

Carrying of the Cross, 1510, similarly uses variations of wam and cool color and high and low value to make certain faces and details stand out. Faces are of a variety skin tones. Some are tan, brown, black and gray. However, right in the middle of the picture is Christ, calmly carrying his burden and lighter in skin tone. This makes his face stand out from the crowd. Our attention is directed to him. There are two other faces similarly high value – the woman at the bottom left (Veronica) and a man at the top. They serve to balance out Christ.

 So similar to Dufy’s painting, your eye travels around the image picking out details of various colors. By evenly distributing high value at center, above the cross and below the cross, the viewer is being continually lead around and won’t miss anything. In the case of Bosch’s painting, we must not ignore the religious context. By painting Christ’s face in high value, the artist may be referencing Christ as of a higher spiritual value than those who may not have recognized his divinity.