Josef Albers

Rarefied, 1964

Oil on fiberboard 60 x 60 cm
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2005 

Josef Albers, who was a teacher at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, emigrated to the US in 1933. There he continued the tradition of systematic exploration of color and form in painting as an artist and art instructor.

From 1950 to the end of his life, he clarified his theories on the effects of color, especially in a major series of paintings with the title Homage to the Square. All of these works are based on the same motif and design principle: Three or four squares seem to be lightly shifted over each other. Their constellation follows solid rules — the height of the color strips over the central square functions as a unit and corresponds to the length on the sides, which are doubled and tripled in the upper area of the image. Thanks to their asymmetrical alignment, the image space seems to open, which Albers used to experiment with the spatial perception of color and its expressive power. The focus of his theoretical considerations was the interaction, or the interplay of colors among themselves and their shifts in intensity and contrast through the corresponding environment. Especially through this late work, Josef Albers made a lasting impression on the development of abstract painting after the Second World War.


1888   born in Bottrop  
1976   died in New Haven, Conn./USA