As both an artist and a teacher, Josef Albers has been a major international influence on modern art. Best known for his paintings and graphics, Albers was a disciplined thinker for whom the infinite possibilities of and relation among color, light, and proportion were a lifelong interest. His series Homage to the Square is thought to best exemplify these explorations.
Less well known are the hundreds of photographs that Albers produced in the 1920s and 1930s, first while he was studying and working at the Bauhaus and later while teaching at Black Mountain College. In their discipline and in their embrace of visual nuance, the photographs are similar to the rest of Albers’s work. In addition to their exploration of the chromatic possibilities of black, white, and gray, they reveal his lifelong preoccupation with taking different approaches to the same problem. In them we see some of Albers’s characteristic visual gamesmanship, his exultation in the play of parallel lines, and his desire to extract the greatest possible richness from descriptive simplicity. They have both the spareness and the vast formal complexity that mark all of his art.
The selection of thirty-eight photographs drawn exclusively from the Albers Foundation was made by Jon Szarkowski, Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Through the generosity of Anni Albers and the cooperation of Nicholas Fox Weber, Director of the Albers Foundation, this exhibition marks the first occasion for museum audiences and scholars to view a little-known aspect of this important artist’s work.