Thursday, December 8, 2011
Josef Albers - Homage to the Square
Only with the Homage to the Square series did Albers finally arrive at a brillant way of demonstrating color phenomena. Besides, the quadrangle is a form codified by Malevich, an intellectual form. The quadrangle expresses new thoughts. Albers transforms it into a physical-psychic reality full of suspense. He offers us hundreds of variations. He uses different schemata. He uses either three or four colors. The visual fusion of three or four quadrangles reminds us of graphic exercises (Graphic Tectonic) and of exercises which originated in the preliminary course at the Bauhaus. At one point the small middle form seems to step out of the picture, and then again it seems to withdraw into its very depth. This back-and-forth on which the plastic perception of these interlaced color zones is dependent, is modified by illumination. In clear daylight a blue zone remains dark and deeply hidden in the picture frame, while in the twilight (or waning light) the complete opposite is true: the red loses brightness, the blue assumes an increasingly powerful glow.
There is no particular reason for any of the different schemata; they serve only to solve various problems of quantity. There are certain schemata which balance the participation of colors more strongly than others. They all have one thing in common: the horizontal symmetry is in sharp contrast to the vertical, asymmetric seriation. Thus zones are created of different chromatic activity. In the ribbon-shaped small strips which lie in the lower half of the picture, the picture produces ar more colorific effect than in the other more broadly planned zones. Everywhere, however, the important point is the alternating modification of colors. A color which lies between two others is influenced by them; the color of the panel on the right is being repeated along the border line on the left, and on the right border line it is the color of the panel on the left. Over and above the actually used colors, new optical mixtures are created.
Josef Albers (born March 19, 1888, Bottrop, Ger.—died March 25, 1976, New Haven, Conn., U.S.)