Josef Albers' Homage to the Square serie, or "Platters to serve colour" as he often referred to them, "were meant to be vehicles, to present something greater than themselves. Like monks, they should be modest and self-effacing, drawing minimal attention to their own corporality; like priests, they must preach the qualities of their subject passionately and vehemently, and sway the heavens. Their purpose was clear: to convince others of colour's magic and power, of the wonders that their creator had uncovered in his lifelong search for truth, even if that truth was to imply the realization that everything is relative and in constant flux" (N. F. Weber, quoted in G. Alviani, Josef Albers, Milan 1988, p. 10). However the artist's programmatic investigation of colour was also informed by an ethical impulse. When questioned on the formalism of his work, Albers, in a television interview in 1960, stated "I considered ethics and aesthetics to be one". For him the relations of colours to one another mirrored the relationship of the individual to society. "Colour, in my opinion, behaves like man - in two distinct ways: first in self-realisation and then in the realisation of relationships with others... In other words, one must combine both being an individual and being a member of society' (J. Albers, quoted in G. Alviani (ed.), Josef Albers, Milan 1988, pp. 235-36).
In the present work the chromatic interactions are pronounced. Four squares are arranged concentrically on the ground, deployed as the vehicle for a visual dialectic between colour, sign and support. The title of the work is subtly misleading, as is the straightforwardness of the composition. In centring the square to the lower horizontal edge a tension is created. The ensuing planar dislocation activates the relativity of the colours, allowing their interrelation to predominate the picture's form. Homage to the Square is of course a study of colour, unique in post-war abstraction in its empirical-spiritual rigour.