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

Stufen (Steps)

Josef Albers (1888-1976)
Stufen (Steps)
signed, titled and dated '"Stufen" Josef Albers 1931' (on the reverse)
sandblasted, flashed glass in artist's frame
16 3/8 x 21½ in. (41.6 x 54.6 cm.)
Executed in 1931.
Margit Chanin, New York Lester Avnet, Great Neck Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1972
Art News, February 1949, p. 19. "Abstrakte Kompositionen auf opakem Glas: Die Glasbilder von Josef Albers," Glaswelt, 1958, pp. 14-15. E. Gomringer, Josef Albers: His Works As Contribution To Visual Articulation In The Twentieth Century, New York, 1968, pp. 30 and 40, no. 46 (illustrated).
M. Rowell, "On Albers' Color," Artforum, vol. X, no.5, January 1972, pp. 33 and 37 (illustrated).
Braunschweig, Gesellschaft der Freunde junger Kunst, Works by Josef Albers, Rolf Cavael, Karl Sommer and Hildegard Sommer-Peters, February-March 1933. New York, New Art Circle (J. B. Neumann Gallery), March 1936. New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden; Berlin, Bauhaus-Archiv and Pori Art Museum, Josef Albers: A Retrospective, March-December 1988, p. 151, no. 96 (illustrated). Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni; Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Northampton, Smith College Museum of Art, Josef Albers: Glass, Color and Light, March 1994-Fall 1995, no. 43 (illustrated in color).
London, Tate Modern, Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World, March-June 2006, pp. 49 and 180, no. 61 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

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

When Albers joined the faculty of the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar in 1923, his art reflected an intense engagement with materials, including glass. His early Scherbenbilder (Shard pictures) were composed of rough scraps of glass that he found during walks around the city. Albers' work began to evolve in tandem with the Bauhaus, which responded to a demand for the arts-and-crafts movement to advance with industry and for the school to produce more commercial products.

Achim Borchardt-Hume wrote:

"Being put in charge of the stained-glass workshop, Albers initially fulfilled the early Bauhaus ideal of the artist-craftsman by designing large-scale architectural commissions including windows for the Director's Office in Weimar, Gropius's Haus Sommerfeld and the Ullstein Publishing House in Berlin. When modernist architecture and its rejection of ornament made such windows obsolete (the stained glass workshop was abandoned following the Bauhaus's move to its new Gropius-designed dwellings in Dessau in 1925), Albers embarked on an innovative series of sandblasted glass pieces that mimic the format of easel paintings. The prevalence of geometric grids and right angles, and the potential for serial production -made with a stencil the pieces could theoretically be replicated- indicate Albers's new-found kinship with the architecture and design discourse of the period.

Yet, at the same time, they retain an element of craft. Adapted from a process originally invented to reduce the cost of engraving gravestones, the precise sandblasting draws at least as much attention to the skill of the craftsman as to the semi-industrial technique itself." (A. Borchardt-Hume, "Two Bauhaus Histories," Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World, exh. cat. New Haven, 2006, pp. 68-69).

Albers's study for the present work, a gouache and graphite work on paper also titled Steps, is in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

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