Josef Albers - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Pace Wildenstein, New York; Waddington Galleries, Ltd., London

  • Exhibited


  • Catalogue Essay

    Josef Albers began the significant and prolific Homage to the Square series in the 1950s, defined by the pictorial formula of the square. This seminal series influenced by the artist's Bauhaus education, placed its emphasis on the contrasting effects of form, texture and most importantly - colour. The chromatic interactions of flat coloured squares arranged concentrically on the canvas, provided an important template to explore the subjective experience of colour. The composition investigated various effects colours have on each other, and the illusion of depth created through the flat planes, where colours appear to be either receding or advancing into space.
    Working in a laboratory style studio, Albers used a systematic approach, appropriate to the rigidly defined elements in his work. In the series, the pigments were applied directly from the tubes of paint onto squares of masonite with a palette knife. Each painting was marked on the reverse with careful notations on the types and shades of color that he had used, in a record of the work's specific formal experiment.
    This illusion of depth changed the shift in emphasis from the perception of the artist and instead set out to challenge the viewer's faculties of reception. Albers sought to teach the mechanics of vision and to show the uninformed viewer how to see. Albers became a pioneer in twentieth-century modernism, teaching art theory at the Bauhaus and in the United States where his influence can be felt among important artists such as Peter Halley, Donald Judd and Robert Rauschenberg

  • 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 for Homage to the Square

Oil on masonite.
16 x 16 in. (40.6 x 40.6 cm)
Initialed and dated ‘A 73’ lower right. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £73,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm