Josef Albers - Study for Homage to the Square

Josef Albers: 'Study for Homage to the Square'

Guggenheim Museum presents ‘Josef Albers in Mexico’



From November 3, 2017, through February 18, 2018, the Guggenheim Museum presents ‘Josef Albers in Mexico’, an exhibition illuminating the relationship between the forms and design of pre-Columbian monuments and the art of Josef Albers (1888 - 1976)

Source: Guggenheim Museum

The presentation features a selection of rarely shown early paintings, iconic canvases from Albers’s Homage to the Square and Variant/Adobe series, and works on paper. The exhibition also includes a rich selection of photographs and photocollages, many of which have never before been on view and were created by Albers in response to frequent visits to Mexican archaeological sites beginning in the 1930s. With letters, studies, and unseen personal photographs drawn from the collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, “Josef Albers in Mexico” presents an opportunity to learn about the least known aspect of his practice, photography, offering a new perspective on his most celebrated abstract works.

An artist, poet, theoretician, and professor of arts and design at the Bauhaus, Dessau and Berlin; Black Mountain College, Asheville, North Carolina; and Yale University, New Haven, Albers worked across the mediums of painting, printmaking, murals, and architecture. With his wife, the artist Anni Albers, he traveled to Mexico and other Latin American countries more than a dozen times from 1935 to 1967 to visit monuments of ancient Mesoamerica, which archaeologists were then excavating amid a resurgence of interest in pre-Columbian art and culture. On each visit, Albers took hundreds of black-and-white photographs of the pyramids, shrines, and sanctuaries at these sites, often grouping multiple images printed at various sizes onto paperboard sheets. The resulting photographs and photocollages reveal Albers’s innovative, if understudied, approach to photography and also underscore the importance of seriality and temporality within his overall body of work.

Albers’s collaged images also suggest a nuanced relationship between the geometry and design elements of pre-Columbian monuments and the artist’s iconic abstract canvases and works on paper. Several of the latter are titled after key sites in Mexico, and formal resonances between the two bodies of work become apparent, especially when viewed together as in the Guggenheim presentation.



Related content

Morgan Library and Museum presents 'Josef Albers in America: Painting on Paper' (exhibition, 2012)


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