Learning that color is a fiction of light is one of the primary shocks of growing up: that this hitherto deeply physical thing is just a reflection, and that nothing can keep its color under the cover of darkness, are monstrous things to understand, even for my adult mind. Yet there is something about color’s frailty at its twilight moment of oblivion that also brings out its magnificence. At color’s juncture with night, everything is suddenly in climax. The world gleams like burnished metal; water like inlaid gold. The sky hangs like heavy weave tapestry. Detail is secondary and focus is lost. The dullest window glows with evanescent glory and even streetlights dominate with an intensity normally unknown to them. Then you watch in thrill and panic as this vivid world is slowly tarnished by night, both woolly and indistinct, denying finally the mysterious illusion of color.
Tacita Dean, Magic Hour, 2007, Colour, Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by David Batchelor, 2008