Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Joseph Albers in America: Painting on Paper

Josef Albers, Color Study for White Line Square
Josef Albers, one of the greats of the Bauhaus, was not a square, but he did paint Homage to the Square. The Morgan Library’s Josef Albers in America: Painting on Paper, displays many of the studies for his Homage to the Square paintings. For Albers, the square was a vehicle to explore color. “I’m not paying Homage to the Square,” he is quoted as saying. “It’s the only dish I serve my craziness about color in.” From l949 on her would paint over 2000 variations on this theme, but the works currently on exhibit are more playful and experimental and what the curators even term “painterly” and some of them use other shapes. He painted parallelograms for example and in a work on paper called Tautonym (l944), he created the equivalent of a visual tautology with two designs repeating themselves in the same painting. In Variant/Adobe (l947), he used two portals of a Mexican dwelling as the sole vessel for his investigations. Albers called his studio, his laboratory—which may have given the impression of an almost scientific interest in the spectrum. But his seemingly cool analytic approach to the creation of works of art is belied by the lyricism and poetry of the these experimental works by the author of Interaction of Color.

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