Art is Seeing, So Josef Albers Develops Visual Articulation

Art is Seeing,' So Josef Albers Develops Visual Articulation

Star Tribune (Minneapolis Minnesota) 03 July 1966 (edited)

Homage to the Square by Josef Albers
Homage to the Square by Josef Albers

"When I paint, I try to develop visual articulation," said Josef Albers. "I do not think, then, about abstraction and just as little about expression."

Josef Albers aim has been to change ideas and viewpoints, even the way we look at things.

Art, he feels, is seeing, and modern artists haven't done a very good job. The reasons are because they have been so individualistic. They've stuck themselves with dominant style.

Instead, says Albers, seeing demands many presentations of the same forms to test the possibilities of each and the reaction on each of different colours.

To prove his point, Albers chose the square. He began his homage to the square series in 1949. He aimed to show that the endless relationship of colour and light have unlimited possibilities in changing the form and meaning of art.

Homage to the Square by Josef Albers
Homage to the Square by Josef Albers

All the paintings representative of his 'Homage to the Square' period use the same simple format; a series of three or four superimposed squares. By using resonant, flatly applied colours, Albers changes the squares to fit a wide variety of emotions.

He does this by emphasizing the characteristics of colour, how it changes in different lights, how two colours may seem to be three and three colours two. He shows by the juxtaposition of colours he can make the central square leap out or drawback.

"They are juxtaposed for various and changing visual effects," Albers said. "They are to challenge and echo each other. Such colour deceptions prove that colour is changing continually, with changing light, shape and placement.

Born in 1888 in Bottrop, German Westphalia, he received his early education in Berlin, Essen and Munich.

When he was only 20, he first came under the influence of the paintings of Cezanne and Matisse.