Discovery and Invention
Discovery and Invention
Below: Josef Albers in front of a relief patterned stone wall at Mitla, Mexico, c. 1936 – 1937. © 2021 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Josef Albers painted his first Homage to the Square in New York in 1950 at the age of 62 and went on to make the first silkscreen version of this composition eleven years later in 1961. Whilst it is true that this series went on to preoccupy him for the remainder of his life, the great myth of Albers is that it was only through this one geometric form, that he articulated his complex panoply of theories on colour and composition. Instead, this relatively late body of work represented a distillation and a clarity born from years of development, revision and, experimentation. It was the culmination of a lifetime of complex artistic investigation, an evolution most clearly revealed through the historical arc of his printmaking practice.
Albers was a naturally gifted printmaker, who possessed an innate ability to push techniques and materials to new limits. The progression from his first print – a small linoleum cut bookplate made in 1915 - to the final portfolios of Variants and Squares, is neither straightforward nor predictable, and straddles the key movements and schools of twentieth-century art. From the powerful early German Expressionist compositions – which he later disavowed – to the graphics he made at the Bauhaus, at Black Mountain College and, finally, during his tenure at Yale, it is in his prints that we see Albers develop and hone the abstract aesthetic for which he is now celebrated.
This Online Viewing Room accompanies an exhibition at the gallery which, together with a new publication, traces the development of his printmaking, providing new insights into the works themselves and also highlighting the importance of the personal and historical context in which they were created. Cristea Roberts has worked with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation for over 20 years and for this exhibition, they have afforded the gallery unrivalled access to impressions of prints never previously exhibited. The display represents the most comprehensive survey of Josef Albers early graphic works ever mounted.
David Cleaton-Roberts, 2021
Please contact [email protected] if you require any further information or would like to view the works at the gallery.
Below: Josef Albers drawing some of the Structural Constellations, New York, 1950, photographed by Rudy Burckhardt. © 2021 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
This new hard-back publication (160 pages with 158 illustrations) presents dozens of prints, paintings, and drawings from the first half of Josef Alber's career as well as previously unseen photographs of the artist at work and on research trips to the ancient sites of Mexico where he found important sources of inspiration for his art and theories. This volume offers a fresh and surprising view of a celebrated pioneer of modernism.
introduction by David Cleaton-Roberts and essays by Brenda Danilowitz, Chief Curator, and Jeannette Redensek, Research Curator and Josef Albers Catalogue Raisonné Director, both of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Published by Art/Books in association with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Cristea Roberts Gallery.
Discovery and Invention: The Early Graphic Works of Josef Albers
About the Artist
Josef Albers (1888 - 1976)
Josef Albers (1888 - 1976), born in Bottrop, Germany, was one of the most influential and innovative painters and printmakers of the twentieth century. Albers studied briefly at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Kunst, Munich, in 1919 before becoming a student at the Bauhaus in 1920. In 1922, Albers joined the school's faculty, first working in stained glass and a year later teaching design. By 1933, when pressure from the Nazis forced the school to close, Josef and Anni Albers emigrated to North Carolina, USA, where they founded the art department at Black Mountain College. In 1950 they moved to Connecticut, where Albers was invited to direct a newly formed department of design at Yale University School of Art.
Photo: Josef Albers, c. 1920, photographer unknown. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © 2021 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.