Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Josef Albers: Work Process

“Study for Homage to the Square with Color Study” (not dated). Oil on blotting paper, 44.3 x 30.2 cm

The show Josef Albers in America: Painting on Paper, which just closed at The Morgan Library in New York's Manhattan,  gives us insight as to how Albers worked through his ideas. In these chosen works, we see written notes and color studies ( they do not contain dates or titles), often on blotting paper or cardstock.   These studies were never exhibited in the artist's lifetime and have rarely been seen after his death.   Although Albers thinks of himself as a clear thinker over raw emotions, these studies show a more human side.

Albers taught  at some of the most prestigious art schools in history, including the Bauhaus,  Black Mountain College, and Yale (where he was head of design).  Robert Rauschenberg has sited Albers as one of his most influential teachers.  Albers has written many books on color theory.

Josef Albers, “Color Study of Grays” (not dated). Oil on cardstock with varnish, 17.9 x 25.7 cm.

“Study for a Variant / Adobe (I)” (ca. 1947). Oil on blotting paper with pencil, 24.1 x 30.6 cm

I was first turned on to this exhibition and snagged images from an article by Thomas Micchelli.  Read the article here:

He writes: "This show exposes Albers, if not in a state of angst, then at his most unguarded. The smeared paint and penciled notations, the corrections, about-faces and debacles (while the warmer squares — in oranges, reds and yellows — are luminous, the ones in blues and greens are rancid) bring us much closer to Albers as a prickly, flawed personality than as an Apollonian artist and thinker." and  "studies that reveal his workaday, unpolished, even bumbling side."

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