A page from Des couleurs et de leurs applications aux arts industriels à l'aide des cercles chromatiques (Colors and Their Application to Industrial Arts Using Chromatic Circles). 1864. Written by Michel Eugène Chevreul. Engraved by René-Henri Digeon

La musique chromatique

Inspired in part by Neo-Impressionist experiments in color theory, our latest playlist takes you on a musical trip around the color wheel.
Someday we’ll find it / the rainbow connection / the lovers, the dreamers, and me
Kermit the Frog

For Neo-Impressionist artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, harmony could be found all around: in art, in music, even in radical politics. Rather than mixing paint on the palette, they placed bright dots of pure color next to each other, aspiring to create harmony in their art. They were influenced by theorists of color such as the chemist Michel Chevreul, director of the dye works at the Gobelins Manufactory, who created his famous color chart (cercle chromatique) to describe the interaction of colors. Bright edges seemed to exist between adjacent colors or direct tonalities, and those that sat across the circle from each other—so-called “complementaries”—seemed to intensify when they appeared together. The Neo-Impressionists believed that combining the vibrant colors of the rainbow would elicit an emotional response in their viewers and encourage them to strive for an equally harmonious society. Then and now, the rainbow stands as a symbol of hope and equality, a utopian vision for the future. Inspired by the many Neo-Impressionist works in our exhibition Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond, we’ve gathered songs inspired by all the colors of the rainbow, from red to violet and everything in between.

Thank you to our friends and colleagues for their song recommendations.