By Brian Fee

I find The Paris Review's literary paint chips feature—“paint samples, suitable for the home, sourced from colors in literature”—totally sublime. Their 28 choices, including the requisite Fitzgerald (“Dock Green") and Hemingway (“Elephant Hills”), suggest Gerhard Richter's color-chart paintings: systematic permutations of chromatic variety, as mundane as industrial paint samples yet as thrilling as exploring every possibility of hue and tone.

Okay fine, I'm also an art nerd. So the literary paint chips got me thinking: what happens when you locate these colors in real abstract art? 

Think of the possibilities not covered here! Those high-altitude sunsets in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, or Füsun's tear-reddened eyes in Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence. The “dead channel” sky of William Gibson's cyberpunk classic Neuromancer could be a flickery gray-green...if, thanks to Gibson's now-retro vocabulary, we can remember what “screen snow” even looks like.

Images: Gerhard Richter courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art; Brice Marden courtesy Wikipedia; Agnes Martin courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York; Mark Rothko courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Byron Kim courtesy James Cohan Gallery