Faber Birren

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Faber Birren
Born(1900-09-11)11 September 1900
Chicago, Illinois
Died30 December 1988(1988-12-30) (aged 88)
Stamford, Connecticut
OccupationColor theorist

Faber Birren (11 September 1900 – 30 December 1988) was an American writer and consultant on color and color theory.[1][2]


Faber Birren was born in Chicago, Illinois on 11 September 1900, the son of Joseph P. Birren, a landscape painter, and Crescentia (Lang) Birren, a pianist. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago while in high school and the University of Chicago for two years where he studied color theory.[2]

He began publishing articles on color in 1924; his first book, Color in Vision was published in 1928.[3]

In 1934 he established his own company and worked as an industrial color consultant, advising clients on the psychological effects of color on safety, employee morale, productivity and sales.[3] His recommendations included changing wall and interior colors to reduce visual fatigue, and using bright colors on machinery to reduce accidents.[3] DuPont, Monsanto, and General Electric were among his clients as well as the military.[1]

He also wrote extensively on color, writing forty books and over 250 articles on the subject.[2]

Birren died in Stamford, Connecticut on 30 December 1988 after a stroke.[1]


Birren married Wanda Martin and they had two daughters, Zoe and Fay.[1]


  • Color in Vision (1928).
  • The Printers Art of Color (1934). Chicago: Crimson Press.
  • Color Psychology and Color Therapy (1950). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • New Horizons in Color (1955). New York: Reinhold Pub. Corp.
  • Creative Color (1961). Van Nostrand Reinhold.
  • Color in Your World (1962). New York: Crowell-Collier Publishing Co.
  • Color: A Survey in Words and Pictures, from Ancient Mysticism to Modern Science (1963). New York: University Books.
  • History of Color in Painting (1965). New York: Reinhold Pub. Corp. lccn 64-22424
  • Principles of Color: A Review of Past Traditions and Modern Theories of Color Harmony (1969). Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 9780442207748
  • Ostwald: The Color Primer (1969). Van Nostrand Reinhold.
  • Color and Human Response (1978). Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 9780442207878
  • The Textile Colorist (1980). Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 9780442238544
  • Light, Color, and Environment (1982) Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 9780442212704
  • Color Perception in Art (1986). Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 9780442207823
  • The Symbolism of Color (1988). Citadel. ISBN 9780806511092
  • Light, Color, and Environment (1988). Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 9780887401312
  • The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten Based on His Book The Art of Color (1970). Johannes Itten, and Faber Birren. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 0442240384
  • The Principles of Light and Color: The Classic Study of the Healing Power of Color (1967) by Edwin D. Babbitt; edited and annotated by Faber Birren. New York; University Books.


In 1971, Birren donated nearly two hundred books about color, many of them rare, to the Yale University Library. He also established an endowment for color research.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Saxon, Wolfgang (31 December 1988). "Faber Birren, 88, Expert on Color". New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Guide to the Faber Birren Papers". Yale University Library. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Kaufmann, Robert C. (July 1974). "A Biographical Note on Faber Birren". Yale University Library Gazette. 49 (1): 73–75. JSTOR 40858539.

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