Project 3 – Exercise 2: Successive contrast

Successive contrast means the phenomenon whereby a sensation such as lightness, colour, or warmth tends induce the opposite perception.

It works best if the colour field is of high saturations and brightness and the afterimage typically let the complementary colour appear when looking at a white paper afterwards. But is also works on other coloured grounds. The following image demonstrates how the same yellow in the bottom row turns either green or red when looking for some time focused on the top row colour fields.


I do feel that those tests works better on a screen than on paper. Perhaps because the luminosity of the screen is higher than pigments on paper – and as it is rather an additive versus subtractive colour mixing.

Several artist were looking at this phenomena. One example is Dan Flavin (1933 – 1969) in his work ‘Untilted (to Pat Bob Rohm)‘, 1969

[online image] Available from: [accessed 20 June 2016]


Another artist is James Turrell (b.1943) who uses also light installations to extend and enhance perception. Compared to Flavin he uses space in another dimension. Available from: 



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