“It’s All Black And White” was the motto of a recent exhibition in London dedicated to Franco Grignani.
But not all of his artistic production has been monochromatic, despite his color blindness!
Just let’s think of the hundreds of colorful ads and covers of the 50s and the 60s, up to his latest works of the late 80s, where Franco evolved his personal research by creating a series of paintings based on a matrix in a zigzag pattern with a remarkable chromatic effect (“symbiotic structures”). But the problem was not limited only to the color, as it also arose for the choice of shades of gray.
He realized to be colorblind the moment he got his driving license.
But how then did he foresee the color rendering that his works would have?
The trick was simple: he just asked the family, or the collaborators of his studio, if the color combination could go, or which true color he had in front …
In this preparatory study for a silk-screen print we can see how he managed the choice of color combinations without being forced to restart from the beginning with a new color scheme; using tempera on tracing paper he superimposed the hypothesis of colors on the underlying neutral texture drawn in black pen on cardboard:
In 2019 the Japanese scientist Kazunori Asada developed a simulator that allows to see colors exactly the same way people who have different types of color blindness see them.
We do not know exactly which variant of color blindness Franco had, but we can assume that these works would have appeared to his eyes in this way: