Josef Albers - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Chester Kerr, New Haven, gift from the artist, 1963
    Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art, Part II, 1 May, 1991, lot 246
    Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, London, Contemporary Art Day, 30 June 2011, lot 144
    Richard Green Gallery, London
    Private Collection, 2012

  • Catalogue Essay

    'Our concern is the interaction of colour; that is, seeing what happens between colours. We are able to hear a single tone. But we almost never (that is, without special devises) see a single colour unconnected and unrelated to other colours. Colours present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbours and changing conditions.’ Josef Albers taken from Interaction of Colour, New London: Yale University Press, 1963, p. 5.

    Homage to the Square was to become one of the most seminal art series produced in the twentieth century, eventually comprising of over a thousand works in an eclectic range of mediums including paintings, prints, tapestries and drawings. Albers began this ambitious project in the early 1950s and continued to develop it over a twenty-five year period, treating each work with the same scientific precision. Homage to the Square: Wide sight (study) rendered in 1963, as a gift to Chester Kerr who helped Albers publish his book on colour theory entitled Interaction of Colour, epitomises his mature artistic and theoretical preoccupations.

    As one of the key pioneers of modernism, Albers greatly influenced the course of art both during his time as a teacher in Bauhaus, as well as after the 1930s when he immigrated to the United States. There, he built on his successful reputation as a theorist and artist, joining Yale after teaching many artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Susan Weil in North Carolina. Unlike the Abstract Expressionists of his time, Albers became consumed by the notions of optical experiments – charting through his art, the effects of certain colour combinations. The manner in which he recorded the pigments used for his Homage to the Square series on the back of many of the individual works, only displays his inquisitive nature all the more.

    Every piece from this group is defined by a highly wrought and methodical style of construction, composed of three or four squares of pure colour nested within one another. As is characteristic of this series, Homage to the Square: Wide sight (study) gravitates to the bottom edge and is painted on Masonite. Utilising a palette knife to apply the oil paint, Albers was able to retain the unadulterated quality of the hues he was incorporating. No mixing or blending was to taint his clarity of vision. In this work, shades of yellow ranging from warm ochre to a near white give unity to these dissected planes of colour that seem to fade in and out of focus. By selecting adjacent hues very particularly, Albers experimented with the way in which he could make certain pigments recede while others rise out from the picture plane. Consequently, his abstract works create a disjointed sense of depth that engulfs and disorientates the viewer through their sheer expansiveness.


Homage to the Square: Wide Sight (study)

oil on masonite, in artist's frame
76.2 x 76.2 cm (30 x 30 in.)
Initialled and dated 'A63' lower right. Signed, titled and dated 'Albers study for "Homage to the Square: Wide Sight" 1963' on the reverse. Further inscribed, initialled and dated 'For Chester Kerr July 1963 A' on the reverse.
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 1963.1.68.

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £338,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm