Tap to unmute
The library of rare colors
- Published on Mar 17, 2019 veröffentlicht
- The Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums is a collection of pigments, binders, and other art materials for researchers to use as standards: so they can tell originals from restorations from forgeries. It's not open to the public, because it's a working research library -- and because some of the pigments in there are rare, historic, or really shouldn't be handled by anyone untrained.
More about the Forbes Pigment Collection: www.harvardartmuseums.org/art...
The Harvard Art Museums: www.harvardartmuseums.org/
Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin)
Audio mix by Graham Haerther haerther.net/
I'm at tomscott.com
on Twitter at tomscott
on Facebook at tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo
Comments • 1 543
I realised, after filming this, that it feels a little weird to have my introduction outside the Museum and the interview inside. But I'm weeks out of Boston now, so it has to stand!
>1 week ago
how long ago did you flim this and why did you put this 1 week ago
I didn’t think it was weird!
It feels like you're just pointing out a fact as you happen to walk past it, and not like you're about to go inside
Works just fine, gives a general location then the interview!
This feels like something someone would start as a hobby, and somehow turned it into a job.
The pigment library or the channel?
I have a feeling they’re referring to the pigment collection; but I also feel like the statement is equally applicable to the channel
@Gaby George kind of my point
John Lasher touché
As it should be. Passion will keep you driven for decades
Imagine dying, being mummified, and then thousands of years later, getting mushed up and put on a canvas.
There’s donating your body to science, and then there’s whatever this is...
Donating your body to art?
I don't think it could be called "donating" in general, I doubt anybody thought to ask them for informed consent for paint-making in their lifetimes.
Well, it's not as bad as being eaten as medicine which happened in Europe during the 12th to 16th century.
Do you mean dyeing?
I want to know how the idea of using mummified remains as a pigment in a paint came about....
Did someone dig up a body for some other reason and think, "that is a really nice color."?
I had a dream about a brand new colour I discovered! However, it turned out to be just a pigment of my imagination...
Oh, hi Dad!
Sighs. Take your upvote.
@aWolfNamedOrion I did not hit her I did nooooot.
Oh hi Dad
I see what hue did there
I had an inkling there would be bad puns to follow. Seems to be making people madder..
Going straight from VantaBlack to showing Stuart Semple's Pinkest Pink and Diamond Dust was a move of pure classiness.
Now i get it, that is pure comedy genius
Omg yess I laughed at this so hard and my family looked at me weird
@jezusmylord i might be stupid but whats the joke?
@Ethan Doyle Iirc, Anish Kapoor is an artist who bought the sole right to use the vantablack pigment, so in retaliation Stuart Semple (also an artist) created the pinkest pink and made it available for everyone EXCEPT Kapoor. Semple said he'd make pinkest pink available to Kapoor only when he allows other people to use vantablack. Semple also created diamond dust, which is supposed to be the most shiniest glitter.
3:17 "Lead white is toxic in the way that lead is...toxic."
Best quote in the video.
You can tell its an Aspen by the way it is
well, its a reasonable observation. Some lead compounds arent toxic at all (for example if the lead is bound in a very stable way). Some lead compounds are toxic, but in a different way (due to a different mechanism) than pure lead.
@TheVergile True. My mouth has a lot of mercury in it.
Instructions not clear, rubbed lead white over my phallus.
The mummi brown was really funny too 😂
"When I was 18, i sloppily said: I rather collect colors then go to work"
"50 years later, here I am, at this University.
I am the Master of Colors and Pigmentresearch."
@Brigee r/ wooosh
@Don’t Know What Name to Use What does cap mean and how did they miss a joke?
I study chemistry and one of the best things is when your product turns a colour you have never seen. I had a liquid that was red from the top and green from the side, turns out it was the Tyndall effect.
I have a fountain pen ink that works something like that. It's a green ink with a red sheen. Jacques Herbin 1670 Anniversary Emerald de Chivor. It also shimmers gold
Pthalocyanine blue was invented by chance. My dad once worked with the ICI scientist that discovered it. Monastral blue. An enamel dish had a crack in it which turned bright blue when holding a solution.
Tyndall... TO THE GOOGLEMOBILE! It definitely rings a bell but Chemistry is definitely my weakest science. :P Anything I should know that google won't tell me? Thank you for this knew knowledge.
EDIT: Oh, yay! Structural colour! Butterfly wings and irises and biological photo-physics! (as I'm sure you already know) I probably heard of it around cuttlefish or chameleons. Now I have a fun fact: the vast majority of blues in the animal world are not pigment colour; they're structural colour. That's still real colour, of course (eat it, NatGeo), but it's all down to processes like the Tyndall effect instead of simple pigment-based absorption-vs-reflection.
makes me think of the shiny bits on US $10s and $20s that's iridescent because of copper particles
@Clockwork Kirlia Huh. I heard of it in relation to Japanese toilet humour.
My favorite part of this video is seeing Stuart Semple's color creations featured immediately after the Anish Kapoor owned "Vanta-Black." If you're not aware of the awesomely petty but insanely entertaining feud between the two, please look it up.
came here looking for this, was not disappointed
i can't recall if this one came out before or after but Tom did an interview with Stuart regarding the feud and Pinkest Pink
@Timbo! that was about two years (2017) before this (2019)
good reaction by Mr. Semple. Quite unethical for Mr. Kapoor to get exclusive access to it, unless it is only for a reasonably short period of time (certainly no more than a decade)
@MH_VOID and this is exactly why I am against patents
Having a shot of Stuart Semple's "exclusive" dyes seconds after the bit on Vantablack was a class act that you may well never top, Tom.
Someone else was commenting on vantablack that it was especially odd when it was on crinkled aluminum foil; it absorbs light so well that the foil looks flat because how it looks doesn't depend on the angle of the surface. It looks like a hole in reality or a rendering error rather than a paint color.
Someone had painted a ping pong ball with it and it looked like a hole in the Space-Time continuum when they held it up.
seems like the algorithm chose me to watch this video now
I am fascinated by the extinction of Quinacridone Gold. It was discontinued as an artist grade pigment in 2018, as the automotive industry simply stopped using it, and it was no longer available to artists. Artists are a small percentage of the consumers of pigment and we simply get what other industries need.
PO49 stopped being used at the turn of the century in the automotive world, so it took almost 2 decades for the majority of the remaining supply to be used up. It's still available as a pigment, it just isn't commercially used to produce paint anymore, likely due to it being cost prohibitive to obtain in large quantities.
As a graphic designer for 23 years, the colors in this video took my breath away- I stopped it and took about 100 screen shots! I’m so very happy there are people who have preserved this part of history, and those who continue to develop new material for us all to share. What a neat video, Thank you.
You never got into gouache or its close relative, watercolour? It seems to be the primary medium for graphic design, so it's strange to me that you'd be new to any of these colours.
Stuart Semple's pink is really the pinkest pink I've ever seen (4:36), and is worth buying just to make pink things at home
It's insanely cheap as well, so it's worth investing in!
I bought his pink and yellow just to see it in person. Camera doesn't do it justice
I have a weird obsession with color and pigment, and this video was heaven for me
isaac grandas Me too :)
Yup, this is Color Mecca for me.
If I keep using egg tempra, I'm afraid I'll get that obsession.
i have been painting & drawing a lot most of my life, so same... I clicked on this video really fast
Same… I got really giddy when I saw the title of this video
Tom, while you are at Harvard you might enjoy visiting the *Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants* (aka *Glass Flowers*). It’s one of those “has to be seen to be believed” things, pictures don’t do it justice. Amazing in detail, artistry, and scope, it’s both a teaching tool and a stunning artistic achievement.
Agree...that collection is remarkable!
I've seen these! They are truly lovely!
It' so remarkable it's verges on ordinary. I was there a few years back and they are so perfect the collection starts looking like a room filled with random grasses. I also love those crystal rooms nearby. Wish I could see this collection.
@Steve Peaple I will have to remember the phrase “so remarkable [that it] verges on ordinary.” I definitely get what you are saying there!
Glad to see Stuart's Pinkest Pink in there.
I like that they showed them right after mentioning Vantablack.
I imagine he'd get a giggle out of that positioning
glad im not the only one who's glad
As an artist, it's amazing to look at the differences in consistently and how paint changes over time. It's fascinating that we now have things like the Pantone charts and grading to get exact shades and variations. Furthermore, there are modern digital tools that try and copy traditional looks and textures of classical mediums. However, I don't think we've gotten to the point where we can simulate the exact outcomes. We can only get close to it.
Tom you never cease to amaze in finding bizarre yet fascinating places
I love this video so much, pausing, going back, and reacting out loud the entire time. I think I’ve already rewatched it dozens of times and just started it a little bit ago. So interesting! I can’t wait to check out the book that kept getting mentioned. This was really cool! Imagine not having paint readily available and having to get so creative and figure it out before you could even create the work! 🤩🌈🎨
Haha, just had to get that shot of pinkest pink just after vantablack.
Just wait.... someone will try to market pink nanotubes for 'lady-scientists'
@BookSlug You are not getting the point... ^_~
@Jorge Amado Soria Ramírez No need to google it, just watch Tom's video on it.^^
Not just that, but Diamond "Put Your Finger in This" Dust.
I was afraid the video wouldn't include shots of stuart semple's colors, but they did!
This is amazing, I could spend countless days glancing around there at all the colors, knowing they all have their own story behind them. Its fascinating, we should cherish things like this and the people that do those jobs.
I'm thinking about their practical uses, there are so many models I could use.
"We have 60 different samples of Hematite"
How awesome would it be if they eventually got a Hematite sample from Mars to add to the collection after some astronaut decides "Hey, I'm going to paint something out of paint I make myself"
Hematite from Mars would probably be very abrasive, so not a good pigment. There are also probably many types of Martian hematites just like on Earth (well, technically Earth has a more diverse geology so not as many, but you get the point).
Of course it's still cool if you can say something was painted with Martian pigments.
Wonder if you can turn the moons regolith in to pigment, luner gray,
@vlad olkhovetsky One of the former Apollo astronauts Alan Bean painted pictures using moon dust and Apollo spacecraft parts
They did that in the video game “Portal 2”
@Abdega "The bean counters told me we literally could not afford to buy seven dollars worth of moon rocks, much less seventy million. Bought 'em anyway. Ground 'em up, mixed em into a gel. And guess what? Ground up moon rocks are pure poison. I am deathly ill."
- Cave Johnson
I recommend reading 'Secret Lives of Colour' by Kassia St Clair if anyone wants to read about origins and uses of some of the most popular and influential colours.
I just put it on hold at my local library. I should be able to pick it up soon. Thanks for the recommendation! I've been looking for some new, interesting reading material.
I used to custom match paint colors manually (as opposed to using a color sensor and having a computer make the formula) for a couple paint stores and i fell in love with it! this collection is absolute heaven!! wow, i can only imagine the colors my monitor cant show accurately....
when you're not sure if you want to major in chemistry or art so you just do both
The Harvard Art Museums are incredible. Definitely worth a trip up to Boston/Cambridge just to visit. They often get overshadowed by NYC’s museums, but are wholly unique (this pigment collection being just one of the many specialties).
I love this video, this is a perfect example of the things that matter out in the world in their own way that you shine light on Tom. Loving it.
As an artist i found this both fascinating and delightful 😀 thanks for spotlighting this! 👍
This is one of those exhibits I never would've sauntered into on my own accord, but Tom manages to put it in an interesting light.
5 stars, Tom 👍
This is wonderful. If you want to learn more about the histories of pigments, I recommend The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair.
it was a great pleasure to get closer than the average museum goer to this collection and see real deal what i'm working with as a painter. glad you got that opportunity as well, and put it up on youtube for the world to see.
Burnt Umber - one of my favourite colours when a kid in school - I now live a few miles from one place they used to make it and worked in the building for a short while - long after the furnace had been removed though. Fascinating stuff!
I highly recommend “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair. It talks all about the history and invention of pigments like these. It’s really fascinating.
So cool! I spend a lot of time dealing with color, but it’s almost all on the computer (or printing by extension), so it’s fun to be reminded of the many ways color gets created outside of the digital realm!!!
Props to the editor who put the B-roll of Pinkest Pink and Diamond Dust in right after talking about Vantablack. Brilliant!
I would definitely attend a display of these colours and the materials used to make them, it's so fascinating!
I love this video. Though I also love seeing that several of the colors aren't necessarily rare, but probably produced from different batches. Rather surprised more of the Cadmiums and Cobalts didn't have the toxic mark on them.
The Pigment collection is awesome! Really interesting details shared by the curator there. I want to hear more :)
OMG! That was freaking awesome! Thank you for sharing this with us ❣️
This was absolutely fascinating! This place is now on my must-see list.
Tom, if you haven't, you should do an episode on how/why magenta isn't a 'real' color... Its a fascinating perspective on color theory;
I love all the interesting topics and places you she's with us, Tom. It's fun but also educational without talking to us like we are children.
You have a great channel. Love from the Netherlands.
This museum is so cool. Really want a documentary series to explain all the colors and their origins
This is great. I love obsessing about pigments. Ultramarine Blue (PB29) can be made in a lab way better than it could back in the day, and is purer, stronger, and cheaper. I wish you spent a bit of time looking at the Pthtalos and Quins though. Especially quin gold, which is now discontinued. :-)
As someone who enjoys chemistry and history in general and reliably winds up in hours long wiki dives every time I look up a paint pigment or dye, I'm really disappointed to hear this isn't available to the public. I'd love to visit a museum where I actually got to see the pigments on display like that, with a writeup about their historical use and interesting chemical properties. (Pigments can get very interesting on the chemical side - Han purple is an excellent example of this - it's a 2500 year old pigment that has some properties that are related to engineering goals for high temperature superconductors and quantum computing. I'd be more specific if I could, but even if I could find a more technical description of those properties, I wouldn't have a clue what it meant.)
Thanks for this awesome video! I am a painter and I live in Boston. I’ve been to this exhibit before, but only a small amount of pigments are out of display, the vast majority are too far away to be really observed, so this video was a treat! Thank you.
Another great and interesting video. Never wondered how they judged forgery from authentic in the art world :)
Incredible. They should do some kind of public exhibition to show what they are doing. It would be so interesting.
thanks to Tom Scott for my win in a pub quiz last week, one of the questions was on mummy-based pigments, another about the 1904 olympic marathon (from citation needed). Couldn't have done it without him
As someone who has been specializing in making their own paint (mostly historic, but a few modern paints too), this collection is mindblowing. (And yes, even with my desire to work as historically accurately as possible, even I won't work with lead white and other incredibly toxic substances.)
I'm so obsessed with pigments and how they work. It's so wild
This is so cool! I wonder if something similar exists for pigments used in dying textiles.
Would have thought every shade of colour imaginable would have been discovered. Especially in the digital age. Great to be educated on something new. Thank you.
Oh no, people are still discovering, creating and working towards pigments. It’s not always a new colour they find but rather a pure hue, or a more stable and light fast one.
Very interesting. As photography and printing are in my wheelhouse i work in rgb, cmyk etc. I know about colours and pigments but i never realised they'd A) keep a "backup" of them and B) that backup would be a colour matched version and a chermical twin which isn't necessarily the same colour! Will have to dig deeper now!
Very interesting. Thanks! It takes me back several years ago to when I decided to make a simple U.S. flag image to add to my computer desktop background rotation. The dimensions were easy to replicate but just using the standard red, blue and white made it look like crap. I did a quick online search and found the RBG values for "Old Glory Red" and "Old Glory Blue." It looked so much better with those values. Who would have thought? Well, Tom Scott probably would have...
1:38 I love the way the building and sorting is arranged.
As an artist and a scientist, I would love to have a job like this 😍
Something about this whole collection is really inspiring
The best thing that I've learned from this video is that the Archive of Colours are like books that can be taken out of the display cases and can be studied/ used for reference. I thought those were just for display.
bluzshadez Yep, specialist research libraries can end up collecting all sorts of things! There are other libraries out there that collect various chemical compounds for people to do assays and chemical analysis on.
@PurpleShift42 Thanks for sharing information. I grew up with the notion that Libraries are only for books and other printed materials, movies, vinyl, etc. I learned something new today. God bless!
That is utterly fantastic. I absolutely love this.
Tom thank you for your videos. In the depressing times we have to deal with it is nice to see a video on how fascinating our world is.
I'm sure a lot of us out there appreciate the video, as we grow more in to the digital age we need to work on cameras that can define these awesome pigments to their true precise color.
I love that someone put star stickers on the jars, that's just so sweet :)
Even with the limitations of cameras and digital screens, there were some really nice colours shown off here
I work at an art supply store with some high end specialty paints, and one of my favorite things to do to demonstrate the difference between lead oils and non lead oils is have customers hold a tube of a modern paint, and then hand them a tube of red lead
so what's the difference?
@Khunark in terms of how the paint itself paints the difference is really in things like flexibility and achievability, but the reason i have people hold the two tubes side by side is to feel the weight. the tubes with lead in them are SIGNIFICANTLY heavier than those without.
Thanks Tom. Always been fascinated y colors, pigments and other ways to represent colors
I actually got excited when I found out they actually have mummy brown. That's such a weird thing, the whole mummy fascination of the Victorians.
Absolutely fascinating! Thank-you for sharing.
My favorite color I've encountered in lab settings is fluorescein diluted in water solution. Depending on pH it can be orange, or bright green. And when I say bright green, I mean that green colour that we think of when we think "radioactive". It looks so vibrant, and almost like it glows from the inside.
Cherenkov radiation is a blue light. Green nukage is a Doom damaging floor. Though the barrels have some explosive green toxin in them of indeterminate chemistry too.
As a sewist, I'm interested in color of fabric. This was fascinating.
Nice to see some Kremer Pigmente 3:47 on their shelves, too. Amazing company making pigments in Bavaria, Germany.
I'd gladly spend hours there, just to look at the coours and learn about the ancient pigments. It's so fascinating. Pity is not open to the public.
For years now, you've developed this ability to curate our access to every corner of humanity. Keep it up, and thank you!
Cool! You always show me things I hadn’t even thought of as something people need.
Thank you for coming to our city! I hope you enjoyed exploring the Harvard Art Museum and the other museums in the area, artistic and scientific.
As a photographer that went thru college the part from .58 seconds to 1.45 makes me appreciate color beside my color theory class. Making a picture color balanced makes photographers consider what is white or middle grey with no color cast. But before color photography one would have to use paint/dye to convey proper color. Even photo realistic paintings may look right but the color when matched to real world color may be wrong. I never thought of a painter taking paint and putting it next to a subject or trying to match a color with different materials. I took art class and mixing colors makes sense and trying to match a color but it's amazing to think of trying to match real world color with a specific rock or leaf etc. . Knowing they have a library of materials used to make colors and synthetic copies is awesome. I would love a program that would take colors from a photo and show the Materials/ColorName/OrignalPaint/ReProPaint to match parts of a photo.
I wonder if there's a scientific way to describe/define a certain color. A way that doesn't uses references to certain materials that are dissolving over time, but actualy physical constants.
So even if the original color/pigment is dissolved over time, you can reproduce the color exactly the same, even though the materials used are not the same.
That would probably be the hex code.
No, there isn’t. Because vision and color detection inherently has a lot of variation
@aaronisalive The hex code is a 32bit simplification of a color which doesn't include any info about reflectivity, opacity, vibrancy etc.
e.g. gold, silver, bronze and other shiny colors can't be described in hex.
I would imagine not, but even if the pigment is faded and gone, you can use the original materials to make more of the pigment.
@Lemons "original material" is a subjective/changing definition as well.
You don't get the pulver for "mummy brown" nowadays anymore and several other materials changed over time due to different purification and synthesis methods.
3:39 - 3:50 it’s fascinating that with all our advancements of video technology, we still can’t 100% replicate the in-person experience in a video format. Rock concerts-or any concert for that matter-are an excellent example of this. You see people whip out their phones to film a band that is playing, but it fails to emulate the experience of physically seeing a guitarist strum their instruments and hearing it at the same time and with the exact sound it has. hearing the audio and the analogue mesh perfectly is just something we can’t capture perfectly at this point in time. Idk, it’s just interesting.
Absolutely love this. Too bad I'm colorblind so a lot of the distinct pigments would probably look the same to me...
I love learning where colored pigment comes from. Thanks so much!
I'd love a series just on colour.
My favourite field: the chemistry of colour! Specially form a historical point of view!
This is incredible. I had no idea I would be so interested in this
Surprised that ultramarine wasn't mentioned in any of the blues. It's made from ground up lapis lazuli and processed to pull out only the blue lazurite. My favorite color😁
I'm not particularly interested in paintings or visual art, but the chemistry behind it is fascinating.
I would love to see these colours in real life.
I love that this isn't just a static display but is used in research and reference. I might have to head out to see this museum one of these days now that I'm back in Massachusetts
As a partial colorblind I'm actually quite curious to how they all actually look on our eyes...
Depending on your type of colour blindness, some people have had great results with enchroma glasses, which can help to give an idea about how the rest of us see colours.
Very similar to the Hafkenscheid cabinet that also contains hundreds of authentic pigments. It's at the teylers museum in the Netherlands.
The colours are an absolute feast for the eyes 😍
I could spend hours listening and learning where did each color came from. That's so cool!
As someone who works a lot with fabrics for my personal projects I know to well that a screen cannot really depict true colour. Its always annoying if stores don´t offer to send samples of fabric because the minute nuances get lost in photos or digital pictures and you by on luck if the colour is good.
I once went walking through a burning forest, and drew a picture of the smoldering trees out of ashes and char. Gathering my own colors somehow meant so much more than any paints I could have bought.
This is the most hipster thing I've seen in a long time. :/
I somehow forget these pigments have to be made by things, they don't just happen. How amazing.
I made a video on my channel about another weird museum in Boston, the Boston Ether dome! Great video as always Tom and I would definitely recommend checking out Harvard’s museums if you’re in Boston, they’re really good.
I got to take a class in Solid State chemistry from Mas Subramamian. There was definitely a lecture about YInMn Blue at one point. Inorganic pigments and their structure/function is preeeety friggen sweet.
In the video the curator mentions how chemical pigments & light affect the colours over time. It makes me wonder how they know what the original colour actually was.