Albers achieved maximal effect with minimal means in every medium he chose to work in: painting, typography, furniture design, and photography. As he explained in 1938, “One and one is two—that’s business. One and one is four—that’s art—or if you like it better, is life.” Albers is best known for his series Homage to the Square, an expansive suite of paintings and prints that he began in 1950. Each work adheres to a fixed set of formal parameters (a square within three or four concentric but unequal margins), and all explore the nuances of color and tonal relationships and the relative nature of perception.
Less well known are the collages Albers made with his own photographs during the waning days of the Bauhaus, the influential German school of modern art, architecture, and design at which he studied and then taught from 1920 to 1933. Within a determinedly limited format—black-and-white photographs, never overlapping, never askew, adhered to rectangular boards—Albers produced a series of astoundingly inventive photocollages. This particular example, one of the most complex of these works, features six photographs of a bullfight in San Sebastián, Spain, in the summer of 1929. The carefully choreographed disjunction among the images—made in and around the arena—reads like cuts in a film, simultaneously collapsing and expanding the viewer’s experience of the scene.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)