JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976)
JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976)
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A Century of Art: The Gerald Fineberg Collection
JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976)

Study for Homage to the Square: Inner Glowing

Details
JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976)
Study for Homage to the Square: Inner Glowing
incised with the artist's monogram and date 'A61' (lower right); signed again, titled and dated again 'Study for Homage to the Square: "Inner Glowing" Albers 1961' (on the reverse)
oil on Masonite
24 x 24 in. (60.9 x 60.9 cm.)
Painted in 1961.
Provenance
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles
Private collection, Los Angeles, 1962
Franklin Parrasch Gallery, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2016
Exhibited
Los Angeles, Ferus Gallery, Paintings by Josef Albers, September-October 1962.
Further details
The work is registered in the catalogue raisonné of the paintings of Josef Albers as JAAF 1961.1.158.

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Lot Essay

Despite its outwardly calm and meditative appearance, Joseph Albers’ Inner Glowing elicits a profound impact on its viewers. Completed in 1961, this painting pushes the boundaries of perception, challenging the viewer’s understanding of color interactions through Albers’ most characteristic composition: a concentric arrangement of squares. Albers skillfully showcases this spatial arrangement through delicate gradations of brown, orange, and red, which he uses to segment the surface. In this composition of three squares, the central square emits the brightest hue, serving as a captivating visual focal point. The surrounding squares harmoniously complement the central square with their tones, creating a balanced dynamic. Albers eloquently captures this interaction of color and the interplay between squares within the composition in his own words: “They are juxtaposed for various and changing visual effects. They are to challenge or to echo each other, to support or to oppose one another. The contacts, respectively boundaries, between them may vary from soft to hard touches, may mean pull and push besides clashes, but also embracing, intersecting, penetrating.” (J. Albers quoted in "The Color in my paintings", Josef Albers, exh. cat. The Mayor Gallery, London, 1989, p. 33)

In his later years, Albers continued to evolve his “Homage to the Square” series, as seen in the 1960s painting Inner Glowing, through which he further explored the optical illusion of color in nested square compositions. Albers focused on this singular motif, recognizing that color does not exist in isolation. Through this body of work, he emphasized the dialogue that cane exist between colors, and ultimately believed their true essence was tied to the square form. Albers’ relationship with color emanates from a lifetime spent immersed in it – as he describes in his seminal text, Interaction of Color, first published in 1963, which presents a comprehensive understanding of color theory. It is in accordance with his innately curious, endlessly searching nature that he remained an influential figure in the Yale University School of Art’s art department during the 1960s, after serving as chair of the Department of Design from 1950 until his retirement in 1958. During this period, he also took on various other teaching roles and commissions that continued to advance his career. Josef Albers embodied a range of roles, encompassing facets of a painter, designer, teacher, and theorist, but the square remains his most signature symbol and has firmly established him as a pantheon of twentieth-century art.

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