• Post-War & Contemporary Mornin auction at Christies

    Sale 2220

    Post-War & Contemporary Morning Session

    11 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 115

    Josef Albers (1888-1976)

    Study for Homage to the Square: Cool Reising

    Price Realised  


    Josef Albers (1888-1976)
    Study for Homage to the Square: Cool Reising
    signed with monogram and dated 'A62' (lower right); signed again, inscribed, titled and dated again 'Study for Homage to the Square "Cool Reising" Albers 1962 For Ruth' (on the reverse)
    oil on masonite
    18 x 18 in. (45.7 x 45.7 cm.)
    Painted in 1962.

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    This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Anni and Josef Albers Foundation.


    Gift from the artist to the present owner

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Ruth Asawa

    Ruth Asawa has lived a rare and unique life as an artist, shaped by social and political impositions. As a teenager in the early 1940s, Asawa and her family were sent by Executive Order to an internment camp along with approximately 120,000 fellow Japanese-Americans. Under the tutelage of professional artists, also interned in the camps, Asawa exercised freedom through her art while her civil liberties were sadly limited by her own government. Though the forced internment was much more than a simple imposition, Asawa exhibits great humility and harbors little resentment as is apparent in the following statement made fifty years later. "I hold no hostilities for what happened; I blame no one. Sometimes good comes through adversity. I would not be who I am today had it not been for the Internment, and I like who I am."

    By 1946 Asawa had been recruited by fellow student Ray Johnson to attend Black Mountain College where, for the next three years she was mentored by such notables as Josef and Anni Albers, Ilya Bolotowsky, Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller. From the teachings of these instructors and legendary artists, Asawa absorbed fundamental lessons regarding a "Less is More" approach to art making. Asawa's classic hanging wire sculptures are woven by hand. Through a deceptively simple process not unlike meditation, Asawa produced her biomorphic and bulbous forms while simultaneously watching after her six children, life intertwined with art, as always. Her works are scintillating and simply extraordinary; in their transparency, delicacy and weightlessness they defy categorization and are alive with a hushed spirit that is both surprising and disarming. Should you be a stranger to these sculptures it would be advisable to investigate Asawa's art further at www.ruthasawa.com.

    The selections offered from the collection of Ruth Asawa are perfect examples of Josef Albers' Homage to the Square series and Ray Johnson's Moticos. Albers' Homage to the Square: Cool Reising, dedicated to Asawa on the verso, is a serious foray into the pure expression of color. Though the structure of this Homage to the Square is precisely delineated the color itself is transient and infinitely subtle; the impact of Albers work on American art cannot be overstated, his work informs the brilliance of Washington School color field painting and the Post-Minimalist and California Light and Space artists obsession with pure visual experience. Ray Johnson's Moticos are embellished forms of communication that deny easy interpretation. A radical departure from the conventions of painting, these works are filled with signs and symbols culled from mass media meshed with quirky doodles and shaped by the artist in rebellious protest of the otherwise conventional rectilinear format. Gifted to Asawa during the 1950s, these Moticos represent a lasting friendship and her inclusion in Johnson's "New York Correspondence School." It is serendipitous that these stunning works by Josef Albers and Ray Johnson are being sold with Christie's this sale season alongside other extraordinary works from the collection of the late Merce Cunningham.