Josef Albers and Homage to the Square

February 21, 2020—August 30, 2020
North Carolina Museum of Art

Celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the influential modern art and design school in Germany (1919–33), this exhibition introduces two of its members—abstract artist, theorist, and educator Josef Albers and weaver, textile designer, and printmaker Anni Albers—and their role in bringing Bauhaus principles to America.

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Of the many individuals associated with Black Mountain College, the abstract artist, theorist, and educator Josef Albers is perhaps the most integral to the revolutionary school. During his tenure at BMC, from 1933 to 1949, Albers studied color theory, a topic that interested him during his time as a student at Germany’s Bauhaus school in the 1920s. His interest was codified in 1950 when the artist began his seminal series, Homage to the Square. Over a period of twenty-five years, Albers created over one thousand paintings, drawings, prints, and tapestries focusing on one seemingly simple shape—the square—and the way color could create optical illusions that challenge viewer perception.

Josef Albers based Homage to the Square on a precise alignment of squares, which seemingly overlap one another. Sometimes painted in corresponding or complementary colors, and other times clashing jarringly, these Homages elicit questions: Do our feelings or moods change when looking at these squares depending on the color combinations? And is it possible for an artist to create illusions of space and depth by using nothing more than color?

This focus exhibition presents a selection of works on paper by Josef Albers, all drawn from the NCMA’s collection and many presented here for the first time.

Free to public. 

Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square: “High Spring”, 1962, oil on Masonite, 40 x 40 in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Gift of the artist, 70.13.1© 2019 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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