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Article

Is triangle really yellow? The empirical investigation of Kandinsky’s Correspondence Theory

Empirical Studies of the Arts. 2012. Vol. 30. No. 2. P. 167-182.

Kandinsky proposed a fundamental correspondence between primary colors and elementary forms: yellow – triangle, red – square, and blue – circle. This theory evoked a strong opposition among artists, design experts, and researchers. This theory was tested in two experiments. In Experiment 1 non-artist university students (N = 284) were directly asked about the color-form assignment using a modified version of Kandinsky’s questionnaire. The evidence did not support Kandinsky’s theory. Rather, their preferences for colored forms were guided by pragmatic associations. A sub-sample (N = 56) was further tested indirectly using a color-form priming technique, the evidence similarly not supporting Kandinsky’s theory. Experiment 2 replicated the results of Experiment 1 in another sample of non-artist university students (N = 60) using color/form recognition test. These findings are in line with earlier investigations which had employed survey methods to assess preference for colors and forms. Having presented a consistent pattern of results among the general population, eventually this theory must also be tested in a synesthetic population.