Study for Homage to the Square "High Tenor"
Josef Albers used abstract painting to understand how colors interact in two-dimensional spaces. This rendering of nested squares in shades of yellow and ochre is part of an experimental series of 1960s paintings and prints. Albers minutely documented these investigations in mathematical proportions and color theory, adjusting variables such as the size, number, and color of squares. Like Atta Kwami, his color work reflected cultural observations. While both Albers and past scholars foregrounded his scientific interest in color, new research has revealed the deep influence of the colors and shapes of historic Mexican art and architecture on his self-styled Homages.
Oil on masonite
18 x 18in. (45.7 x 45.7cm)
frame: 18 5/8 x 18 5/8 in. (47.3 x 47.3 cm) (show scale)
Recto: initialed and dated lower right: A 59
Verso: marked, "diminuenda" in chalk with title, signature, date, dimensions, and color notes
Gift of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
This item is not on view
Josef Albers (American, 1888-1976). Study for Homage to the Square "High Tenor," 1959. Oil on masonite, 18 x 18in. (45.7 x 45.7cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 1995.197.2. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1995.197.2_SL1.jpg)
overall, 1995.197.2_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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What is going on here?
The artist did a whole series of canvases titled "Homage to the Square" exploring different color groupings and the ways the colors interact with each other. So, you can see that although these are both ranges of yellows, the different arrangements of light and dark tones create different visual effects. It was a very experimental approach to art at the time.
He was a very influential teacher, too. He encouraged artists to work through "defamiliarization," basically, starting from scratch and looking at everything in a new way, while being very precise and logical. Almost like a scientist as well as an artist.
Interesting, thank you!