TAS starts the year 2017 by presenting a special issue on the artist Josef Albers (1888 – 1976).
I have long been interested in the glass paintings that Albers made in Germany in the 1920’s long before he immigrated to the United States. I wanted to see these works in person and finally had the opportunity to do so last August at the Albers Foundation in Connecticut, just up the road from where I was installing a large public artwork that might also be called glass paintings, though the scale of these works does change the premise put forth by Albers. It was such a revelation for me to see these works in person and to learn more about both Anni and Josef Albers, two artists I have been thinking about for probably my entire artistic life.
While at the Albers Foundation, I met with Fritz Horstman, the Foundation’s Artist Residency and Education Coordinator, who gave me a personal visit of parts of the Foundation. It was fascinating to speak with him; I relished learning about his particular relationship to Albers’ body of work. This visit was the instigation for this special issue. I am delighted to present Fritz’s essay on the matière, a central element of Albers’ art and design pedagogy.
I believe in the significance of time and place. In September of 2016, I was an artist in residence at the Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia, the town where Rothko was born, for a Painting Symposium with eight other artists. There I met José Heerkens, one of the other artists, who has written on Albers for this issue. José not only spent three and half months at the Albers Foundation as an artist in residence in 2011, but her oeuvre is focused on color, Albers’ primary concern as both an artist and a teacher. At the Rothko Centre, I saw how color affected her, how her work is about the measure and weight of hue. It is with great pleasure that I welcome the contributions of these two fellow artists to The Art Section’s special issue on Albers.
There have been two recent exhibitions on Albers. I had the opportunity to see one at David Zwirner in New York City titled Josef Albers: Grey Steps, Grey Scales, Grey Ladders. I saw this exhibition on a grey grey day in New York and I must admit it hit a perfect note. Perhaps now that we are in the thick of winter, what is needed is the Albers exhibition that is currently at David Zwirner in London, Sunny Side Up, on view through March 4, 2017, that includes the work Study for Homage to the Square: Aurora, 1957 an oil painting on masonite whose composition of crescendoing levels of the most exquisite yellows are sure to warm you. There are other Albers exhibitions coming up in New Haven, Connecticut; Ashevile, North Carolina; London, UK at the British Museum; Dessau, Germany; Paris, France; Bilbao, Spain; and Dusseldorf, Germany. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City will round out the year with Josef Albers in Latin America from November 3, 2017 – February18, 2018.
Wishing you a Happy 2017, beginning with thoughts on Color, Light, and Peace.
All my best,
The Art Section
Deanna Sirlin is an artist. Her recent book is She's Got What It Takes: American Women Artists In Dialogue was Published by Charta Art Books 2013.
Josef Albers, June 1950
photograph by Johannes Beckmann
Courtesy the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
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