Josef Albers - Contemporary Art Part II New York Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Germany

  • Catalogue Essay

    In musical compositions,
    so long as we hear merely single tones, we do not hear music.
    Hearing music depends on the recognition of the in-between of the tones,
    of their placing and of their spacing.
    In writing, a knowledge of spelling has nothing to do with an understanding
    of poetry.
    Equally, a factual identification of colors within a given painting
    has nothing to do with a sensitive seeing
    nor with an understanding of the color action within the painting.
    Our study of color differs fundamentally from a study which anatomically
    dissects colorants (pigments) and physical qualities (wave length).
    Our concern is the interaction of color; that is, seeing
    what happens between colors.
    We are able to hear a single tone.
    But we almost never (that is, without special devises) see a single color
    unconnected and unrelated to other colors.
    Colors present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to
    changing neighbors and changing conditions.
    As a consequence, this proves for the reading of color
    what Kandisky often demanded for the reading of art:
    what counts is not the what but the how.
    Josef Albers taken from Interaction of Color, New London:Yale University
    Press, 1963, p. 5.

  • Artist Biography

    Josef Albers

    German-American • 1888 - 1976

    Josef Albers was a German-American artist and educator, best known for his series Homage to the Square. His rigid, geometric works focus on the interplay of color and shape, and Albers is considered one of the fathers of both Minimalism and Conceptual Art. 

    Albers was born in Bottrop, Germany, and relocated to Munich in 1919 to study at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts. Albers began his career as an educator at the famous Bauhaus in 1922, first as a stained glass instructor and then as a full professor in 1925. Working at the Bauhaus brought Albers into contact with many other famous artists of the period, including Kandinsky and Klee. When the Nazis forced the Bauhaus’ closure in 1933, Albers left Germany and settled permanently in the United States. 

    For ten years, Albers (and his wife, fellow artist Anni Albers) taught at Black Mountain College, a progressive school in North Carolina. Between his time there and later at Yale University, Albers taught a number of artists who would later become quite famous, including Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Eva Hesse, Ruth Asawa and Richard Anuszkiewicz.

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Study to Homage to the Square: Elected


Oil on masonite.

17 3/4 x 17 3/4 in. (45.1 x 45.1 cm).
Initialed and dated “A56” lower right; signed, titled and dated “Study to Homage to the Square ‘Elected’ Albers 1956” on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and will be included in the forthcoming Josef Albers Catalogue Raisonne.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $145,000

Contemporary Art Part II

16 Nov 2007, 10am & 2pm
New York