Josef Albers (1888-1976)
Josef Albers (1888-1976)

Study to "Affectionate" (Homage to the Square)

Josef Albers (1888-1976)
Study to "Affectionate" (Homage to the Square)
signed, titled and dated 'Study to "Affectionate" (Homage to the Square) Albers '54'; titled and inscribed with a handwritten description of media used (on the reverse)
oil on masonite in artist's frame
15 ¾ x 15 ¾in. (40 x 40cm.)
Painted in 1954
Estate of Josef Albers.
Josef Albers Foundation.
Galerie Denise René, Paris (acquired from the above in 1988).
James Mayor Gallery, London (acquired from the above in 1989).
Acquired from the above by Jeremy Lancaster, 14 February 1990.
J. Ferrier & Y. Le Pichon, Art of the Twentieth Century, The History of Art Year by Year from 1990-1999, Paris 2002, p. 727 (illustrated, p. 725).
Montreal, Galerie H.E.C. École des Hautes Études Commerciales, Josef Albers, Hommage au carré: de la science à la magie, 1985, no. 2.
Paris, Galerie Denise René, Albers, 1987.
London, The Mayor Gallery, Josef Albers, 1989, p. 62 (illustrated in colour, p. 63). This exhibition later travelled to Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve.
Birmingham, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Chance, Order, Change: Abstract Paintings 1939-89, 2016.
Further details
This work will be included in the Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Josef Albers currently being prepared by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and is registered under no. 1976.1.1308.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

Executed in 1954, Josef Albers’ Study to “Affectionate” (Homage to the Square) is a study for a painting of the same year now held in Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. With its warm spectrum of red, orange and yellow tones, the work stems from the ground-breaking series of Homages to the Square that Albers had initiated four years earlier. These paintings would consume the artist for the rest of his life, forming a virtual laboratory for his rigorous dissection of the chromatic spectrum. The present work captures the character of Albers’ early Homages, in which bands of colour remain clearly distinct from one another, creating a rich vortex of tension and friction. It is presented in its original frame, which – like many of his early works – comprises wood painted over in grey by the artist himself. Having spent the early part of his career teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, in 1950 Albers was appointed chairman of the Department of Design at Yale University, running a course that would culminate in his seminal volume Interaction of Colour in 1963. His approach was rooted in direct observation, and his classes sought to focus his students’ attention on phenomena that might otherwise have gone unobserved: the way in which the colour of tea darkened in a glass, or the spot of light that lingers on a television screen after the set is switched off. By encouraging his students to concentrate on visual minutiae, Albers strove to shed light on the diffuse, multifarious nature of human perception. ‘In the end’, he explained, ‘the study of colour again is a study of ourselves’ (J. Albers, 1968, reproduced at

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