Journal Article

Harmonizing These Two Arts: Edmund Lind's <i>The Music of Color</i>

Jeremy Kargon

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 24, issue 1, pages 1-14
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online March 2011 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI:
Harmonizing These Two Arts: Edmund Lind's The Music of Color

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Written and illustrated in 1894 by British-born American architect Edmund Lind, the unpublished essay titled The Music of Color includes elaborate graphic representations of musical scores and spoken word. These plates are today often described as early depictions of Lind's own synæsthesia, and are considered among the earliest artistic expressions of that phenomenon. A review of the original text suggests, however, that Lind's method was notational and that Lind himself had no personal experience of synæsthesia. In fact, Lind's view of art and science remained firmly anchored in earlier nineteenth-century sources. Two particular works, cited by Lind in his essay, represent alternative cross-currents among that period's many speculative links between music and colour. In addition, Lind's architectural education in London occurred at the height of the Victorian-era ‘design reform’ movement, which sought to revolutionize the visual character of England's material culture. The reformers’ appeal to abstract structure, as embodied in their study of botany and quasi-scientific theories of colour, was an implicit source of Lind's later fascination with music's representation through visual means. The Music of Color anticipated the graphic experiments of a later generation's avant-garde, especially among those art movements founded in the wake of increasing challenges to traditional modes of perception.

Keywords: colour; design reform movement; design theory; music—nineteenth century; representation

Journal Article.  7076 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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