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Book Review: Chromophobia by David Batchelor

on July 03, 2023

Book: Batchelor, D. (2000). Chromophobia. Reaktion Books.

As a passionate enthusiast of art and literature, I recently embarked on a captivating journey through artist/author David Batchelor's Chromophobia. This thought-provoking book dives deep into Western society's curious fear of color, offering a compelling thesis that might resonate with other lovers of Abstract Expressionism.

David Batchelor's Chromophobia book

Batchelor's research and analysis shed light on the socio-historical roots of chromophobia, unraveling its complex layers and implications. I found myself drawn into a fascinating discourse that challenges conventional (Western) perceptions of color and its significance in human experience.

What struck me most, of course, was Batchelor's examination of how chromophobia intersects with—or more aptly, how it contrasts with—art movements like Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism. In Abstract Expressionism, color often serves as a powerful vehicle for emotion and expression, challenging viewers to confront their own inner landscapes. Conversely, Neo-Expressionism (see my recent blog post on this) embraces vibrant hues to convey raw, visceral experiences, rejecting the constraints of chromophobic norms.

artist david batchelor author of chromophobia
David Batchelor in his studio, 2020.

Batchelor's book has given me an even deeper appreciation for the revolutionary spirit of these art movements and their artists—they dared to defy hegemonic Western chromophobic conventions and chose instead to celebrate color. Chromophobia is a great reminder of the transformative power of art, inspiring us to embrace color in all its radiant glory.


Pete Stein
Founder, Galerie Stein

Galerie Stein will be presenting several contemporary Abstract Expressionist artists both virtually at and in our gallery in Montreal in 2024.
Contact: Pete Stein at