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Josef Albers (American/German, 1888–1976)
LOT ID: 52055
Study for Homage to the Square, 1966

Oil, on Masonite
24 х 24 in. (60.96 x 60.96 cm.)
Signed, titled, and dated on verso, initialed and dated 'A66' lower right.
Lot description
A classic example from Josef Albers's most notable series, ‘Study for Homage to the Square’ (1966) displays flatly-colored squares placed in concentric arrangement, allowing for a chromatic interaction of varying greens within the composition. Albers centers his nested squares along a vertical axis, but shifted them downward along the horizontal axis to create a notion of weight and dimensionality. Carefully calculated in their positioning, each square optically alters the hues, sizes, and spatial relationships of its neighbors, playing upon the viewer’s own experience and emotional interaction with the composition.

From 1949 until his death in 1976, Josef Albers created an expansive series of works entitled ‘Homage to the Square’, which rigorously explored the artist's fascination with how colors appear when seen independently and how they interact when juxtaposed. This particular painting is an exceptional meditiation, with hues ranging from warm greens cool blues, and has been included in the recent exhibitons "Homage to the Square, Paintings and Photographs" at Waddington Galleries (London, England) and "Homage to the Square" at Pace Wildenstein (New York, NY), from whom it was acquired by the current owner. Similar examples can be found in the most prestigious collections throughout the world, such as:

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY)
Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA)
National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)
Tate Gallery (London, UK)
Kunstmuseum Basel (Basel, Switzerland)
National Galleries of Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland)
National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Canada)
The Phillips Collection (Washington, D.C)
State Museums of Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

A pioneer of modernism and color theory, German-born Josef Albers (1888-1976) taught at the infamous Bauhaus’s Department of Design, before immigrating to America in 1933 to join the faculty of the Black Mountain School in North Carolina. His work integrated European artistic conventions, such as influences from the Constructivists, with new American abstraction that relied heavily upon intense colors and patterning. In his writings on color theory including his 1963 publication ‘Interaction of Color’, Albers noted that the way we experience color varies based on our individual personalities and on factors such as hue, dimension, and placement. To Albers, the square was a perfect form due to its simplicity, leading to his belief that such a common shape would not distract viewers from their experience and perception of color. Solidifying his importance in the history of art, Albers was the first living artist to have a solo retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971. In addition to being awarded thirteen honorary doctorates, he also received numerous awards including the Carnegie Institute Award for Painting (1967), the Grand Prix at the Third Bienal Americana de Grabado in Santiago, Chile (1968), and the Fine Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects (1975), among numerous others.
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Sales Results for Comparable Works

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    Homage to the square: cerulean (study)
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    Study for Homage to the square: Deep toned
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    Homage to the square: Tenacious
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    (H 24.0, W 24.0) in.
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    Homage to the square: Warm silence
    oil on masonite
    (H 24.0, W 24.0) in.
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    Sold for: US$408,000
    Wednesday, November 09, 2005
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    Homage to the square: Yes
    oil on masonite
    (H 24.0, W 24.0) in.
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    Sold for: US$598,400
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