Josef Albers

Josef Albers

Work from his oeuvre.

“Albers’s overall aim was to create an impression of effortless, inevitable harmony, which, of course, demands hard work. And labor is the subject of “Josef Albers in America: Painting on Paper” at the Morgan Library & Museum, a show not about finished products but about the constant hands-on research and experimentation, the hitting, missing and learning-as-you-go correcting that went into them.

But the big change is the emphasis on color over geometry as a source of dynamism, and with this shift the buildup to “Homage to the Square” has begun. In the show it advances in stages. The large rectangles start to look somewhat less houselike and a little more like what they are: stacks of superimposed colored planes. And as if the memory of stained-glass has returned, Albers turns his attention to luminosity in color, paint as light.

Keenly alert to subtleties of hue and value, he bought the same color paints made by different manufacturers and compared them side by side, noting the names of colors and brands in pencil in the margins of the oil-on-paper studies, a habit that persisted into the “Homage” series.” – Holland Cotter

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