Archive for April 1st, 2010

01
Apr
10

Exhibition: ‘Josef Albers: Innovation and Inspiration’ at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.

Exhibition dates: 13th February – 11th April 2010

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) '6 and 3' 1931

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
6 and 3
1931

 

 

One of my favourite artists – what a genius!

His exploration of colour and form is exquisite, sensitive and very moving – despite his belief that colours have no inherent emotional associations.

Many thankx to the Hirshhorn Museum for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Marcus

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Rolling After' 1925-28

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Rolling After
1925-28

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Piano Keys' 1932

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Piano Keys
1932

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Steps' 1932

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Steps
1932

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Untitled (Leaf Study)' c. 1940

 

Josef Albers  (German, 1888-1976)
Untitled (Leaf Study)
c. 1940

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Structural Constellation, Transformation of a Scheme No.12' 1950

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Structural Constellation, Transformation of a Scheme No.12
1950
Machine engraving on black vinylite mounted on board

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Structural Constellation, Transformation of a Scheme No.23' 1951

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Structural Constellation, Transformation of a Scheme No.23
1951
Machine engraving on black vinylite mounted on board

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Structural Constellation, Transformation of a Scheme No.10' 1950-51

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Structural Constellation, Transformation of a Scheme No.10
1950-51
Machine engraving on black vinylite mounted on board

 

 

Exhibition Illustrates Albers’ Sphere of Influence

The Hirshhorn possesses one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collections of work by Josef Albers (b. Bottrop, Germany, 1888; d. New Haven, Connecticut, 1976). “Josef Albers: Innovation and Inspiration” presents nearly 70 works spanning the artist’s 55-year career, many on view for the first time. Supplementing pieces from the museum’s holdings are key objects on loan from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Organised by senior curator Valerie Fletcher, the exhibition also includes documentary photographs and examples of Albers’ teaching aids, and concludes with a display of works by artists who knew, worked with, studied under or openly admired Albers. The exhibition opens on February 11 and runs through April 11, 2010.

“Josef Albers: Innovation and Inspiration” encompasses the artist’s distinguished career from 1917 to 1973. The exhibition begins with four early self-portrait prints dating from the years of World War I, followed by a group of boldly abstract compositions from Albers’ tenure at Germany’s revolutionary Bauhaus, where he taught alongside such remarkable modernists as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Albers participated in the school’s utopian aspiration to improve modern life through manufacturing and design-ideas that resonated throughout Albers’ career. The Hirshhorn’s show includes a series of black-and-white designs intended for mass production in glass, such as “6 and 3” (1931, see above), and an illuminated display of eight glass panels, in which the artist modernised and transformed the medieval tradition of stained-glass windows, best characterised by “Fugue (B)” (1925-28).

Following the Nazi party’s rise to power, the Bauhaus was forced to close in 1933. Albers fled to the United States, where he was recruited to head the art program at the new Black Mountain College in North Carolina. There, Albers introduced a modified Bauhaus curriculum and hired vanguard modernists as teachers. He enthusiastically taught his students how art could be made from virtually any material, which he demonstrated in some of his own works, such as three “Leaf Study” collages (c. 1940, see above). Albers continued to advocate the clear structures of geometric abstraction, still mostly in black, white and primary colours, but was open to different stylistic approaches. He also briefly adopted the biomorphic forms associated with surrealism, as seen in the work “Proto-Form (B)” (1938).

In 1949, at the age of 62, Albers became chairman of the art school at Yale University, with a mandate to transform it from a conservative academic program to a proponent of modern concepts and applications. Believing firmly that colours have no inherent emotional associations, he meticulously explored their nuances and combinations in his work. He eventually limited the shape and number of his forms, which resulted in a standardised format that he called “Homage to the Square,” for which he is best known. Two dozen “Homage to the Square” compositions fill the central gallery in the exhibition, inviting viewers to examine the subtle complexities of their perceptions. The vivid yellow-orange-reds of “Glow” (1966, see below) startle the eye, while the pale grays of “Nacre” (1965, see below) suggest cool neutrality. These images create optical illusions, challenging viewers’ visual acuity. This series concludes with the artist’s vivid red-print duo, “In Honor of the Hirshhorn Museum,” on view for the first time since the museum opened in 1974.

In addition, this exhibition includes examples from Albers’ “Structural Constellation” series of reliefs (1954-64, see above), which anticipated op art with their linear patterns. The reliefs’ commonplace material-laminated plastic-also fulfils the utopian goal of making art affordable to everyone. The two largest paintings on view, both titled “Variant” (1973), were donated by the artist’s wife and foundation in 1979.

Albers remained active and influential until his death in 1976, and many of his pedagogical innovations have become standard methodology in art schools across the country. His explorations of abstract form and colour also inspired and stimulated generations of artists and designers. Shortly after his arrival in America, he became a co-founder of the American Abstract Artists group and participated in exhibitions across the country, from New York to Michigan and beyond. The Hirshhorn’s exhibition ends with an array of works by colleagues, students and admirers, among them: weavings by the artist’s wife, Anni Albers; abstract constructions by Burgoyne Diller; streamlined images of labor by Jacob Lawrence; a large op art painting by Richard Anuskiewicz; textured creations by Eva Hesse and Robert Rauschenberg; and a minimalist stacked wall sculpture by Donald Judd.”

Press release from The Hirshhorn Museum website [Online] Cited 01/04/2010 no longer available online

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Soft Spoken' 1969

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Soft Spoken
1969

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Porta Negra' 1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Porta Negra
1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Profundo' 1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Profundo
1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Nacre' 1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Nacre
1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square. Soft Edge - Hard Edge' 1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square. Soft Edge – Hard Edge
1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Arctic Bloom' 1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Arctic Bloom
1965

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Blue Reminding' 1966

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Blue Reminding
1966

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976) 'Homage to the Square - Glow' 1966

 

Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Homage to the Square – Glow
1966

 

 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn is located on the National Mall at the corner of 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington D.C.

Opening hours:
Open daily except December 25
10am – 5.30pm

The Hirshhorn Museum website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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