Josef Albers - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 17, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
    Dr. Frank Stanton, New York
    McCrory Corporation, New York
    Dr. Martin Silverstein, New Jersey
    Soho West Galleries, West Hurley, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Essex, Connecticut, Essex Art Association, Josef Albers, June 12 - June 28, 1953
    Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Josef and Anni Albers: Paintings, Tapestries and Woven Textiles, July 8 - August 2, 1953, no. 34
    New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Acting Color: Albers, January 31 - February 26, 1955

  • Catalogue Essay

    Created in late 1940’s, early 1950’s, the present lot After Nightfall represents a rare example from a time period in which Josef Albers first began carrying out his investigation into the relationship between color and form. Comprised of deep reds and a stark black, After Nightfall is defined by two towering forms. Creating an unbalanced central composition, this design is the primary characteristic of Albers’ Variant and Adobe series. Architectural in nature, Albers’ adobe-like facades are comprised of a horizontal rectangle with two vertical towers at the left and right edges. This asymmetrical arrangement creates a fragile structure, further emphasized by the shifting, subtle tonalities of the red hues. As Albers comments, “If one says 'red' - the name of color - and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.” (Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, New Haven, 1963) Each of these “different” reds can be seen in the present lot, the choice of colors used, as Albers explains “as well as their order, is aimed at an interaction - influencing and changing each other forth and back." (Josef Albers "On My Homage to the Square,”Josef Albers, exh. cat., The Mayor Gallery, London, 1989, p. 31)

    In After Nightfall the paint is applied with a palette knife, which can be seen in the careful, small applications of pigment which creates further depth into a seemingly flat painting of clearly outlined shapes. These definite forms have been commented on by sculptor Hans Arp, who has said that Albers' paintings, “contain simple, great statements such as: I'm standing here. I'm resting here. I'm in the world and on earth. I'm in no hurry to move on. While Mark Rothko sought transcendence, Albers looked for fulfillment here on earth. Mark Rothko approached the ethereal through art. Josef Albers realized 'the spiritual in art.'" (Wieland Schmied, "Fifteen Notes on Josef Albers,” pp. 9-10)

    After Nightfall was originally purchased from the Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition, Acting Color: Albers, in 1955 by Dr. Frank Stanton, an important art collector and early avid supporter of Albers, Dr. Stanton he was the then president of CBS, American broadcasting. Dr. Stanton’s interest in the composition of color was echoed in his avid support in the 1950’s for CBS’s advance to color television broadcasting. He also acquired an Alber’s Homage to the Square: Silent Hall, 1961 which he donated to the Museum of Modern art, New York and still remains in its permanent collection. After Nightfall is a rare opportunity to acquire a stunning, early Josef Albers with prestigious early provenance.


After Nightfall

signed with the artist's monogram and dated "A 48-53" lower right; further signed, titled and dated ""After nightfall" Albers 48-53" on the reverse
oil on masonite
17 7/8 x 26 7/8 in. (45.4 x 68.3 cm.)
Executed in 1948-1953, this work will be included in the forthcoming Josef Albers Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by The Anni and Josef Albers Foundation and is registered at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation as JAAF 1948.1.25.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $526,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2016