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Josef Albers

Homage to the Square: Saturation


Josef Albers
Bottrop, Germany, 1888 – New Haven, Connecticut, 1976


Homage to the Square: Saturation




Oil on hardboard


121.9 x 121.9 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1969.1617


Western Art

At the Bauhaus (first in Weimar, later in Dessau, Germany), where he studied between 1920 and 1923 and subsequently taught as a master until 1933 (the year he emigrated to the United States), Albers began developing his artistic thinking by analyzing the properties of different aesthetic languages. Pursuing his studies at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he began teaching in 1935, and in the design department of Yale University, of which he was appointed director in 1950. He came to understand the relative nature of colour, whose value he saw as a function of what he called the “optical effect.” He demonstrated his conclusions in his historic series “Homage to the Square,” begun in 1949. Composed of different coloured squares nested within one another, these paintings graphically illustrate the variability and instability of colour. Albers’s theories and teachings had a decisive impact on such movements as Op and kinetic art.

© Estate of Josef Albers / SOCAN (2021)

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