JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976) Study for Hommage to the Square "Fall Finale", 1963
Lot 105
Study for Hommage to the Square "Fall Finale", 1963
Sold for US$ 233,000 inc. premium

Contemporary Art

12 Nov 2013, 13:00 EST

New York

Lot Details
JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976)
Study for Hommage to the Square "Fall Finale", 1963
signed with the artist's monogram and dated 'A 63' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'Study for Hommage to the Square "Fall Finale" Albers 1963' and further annotated for color (on the reverse)
oil on masonite
30 x 30in. (76.2 x 76.2cm)


    Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
    Daytons Gallery 12, Minneapolis.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.

    Washington, D.C., Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Josef Albers: The American Years, 30 October-31 December 1965, no. 46. This exhibition later traveled to New Orleans, The Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, 23 January-27 February 1966; San Francisco, The San Francisco Museum of Art,2 June-26 June 1966; Santa Barbara, University of California Art Gallery, 8 July-7 September 1966 and Waltham, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, 23 September-29 October 1966.
    Krefeld, Galerie Denise René - Hans Mayer, Albers, Spring 1967.
    Stuttgart, Württemburgischer Kunstverein, 50 Jahre Bauhaus, 5 May-28 July 1968, no. 24 (illustrated in color, p. 223).
    Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, America Now: American Art, 1940-1976, 29 February-2 May 1976.

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

    "An element added to an element must produce besides its sum at least one interesting relationship. The more different relationships that arise and the more intensive they are, the more the elements enhance one another, the more valuable the result" (J. Albers, quoted in Josef Albers, exh. cat., Mayor Gallery, London, 1989, p.21).

    Painted in 1963, Josef Albers' striking Homage to the Square: "Fall Finale" is an example of pure artistic expression, where the presentation and analysis of color seen in the layering bars of brown and orange result in a deliberate and calculated viewing experience centered around the power of concentrated and thoughtful repetition. His mysterious and all the while vibrant work is both calm and submersed, welcoming the viewer into a plane of deep contemplation that exists only to benefit the viewing subject. One's eyes rove the painterly space – testing the boundaries of pigment – while the viewer's attention is equally as engaged, funneling this experience into an analytic stance on choice and repetition.

    Albers' belief system, formed during his time teaching at the prestigious Weimar Bauhaus in the 1920s along side fellow artists Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, centered on medium and the process of construction - where each highlight the action and choice of the artist as well as the active participation of the viewer. After the devastation of World War II, Albers came to teach at Black Mountain College through the suggestion of the then curator at Moma, Philip Johnson and brought along this Bauhausian attitude towards compositional theory. Albers, with students such as Ruth Asawa, Ray Johnson, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, believed that the relationship of medium - here color - "must yield at least one interesting relationship over and above the sum of these elements. The more different relationships are formed, and the more connected they are, the more the elements intensify each other and the more valuable is the result and the more rewarding is the work" (J. Albers quoted in N. Fox Weber, The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism, New York, 2009, p. 336).

    This intense examination of the aesthetic affects of color breaks down an essential element of all art, revealing that color holds just as much meaning as line, shade or texture. Seen amongst his nesting squares, is a composition with its core at the center, pulsating outwardly to reverberate emotion. With the aim to analyze the relationships between colors, Albers spreads two pigments adjacent to one another using a palette knife straight from the tube, rather than on top of or blending the pigments. Here, each pigment stands along, giving the illusion of layering, and in doing so underscores the importance on flatness and place of the artist. Seen as pristine and exacting examples of painting, Albers works barely reveal a human element, however in Fall Finale, we see Albers deliberate inclusion of pigment over pigment in the lower right corner. This quadrant, unlike the majority of his works, means to instigate a conversation within the viewer as to the implicit need for human reference, or to put it bluntly, does the viewer need to see the imprint or touch from the artist in order to relate to it as a creative entity rather than an industrialized object? This complex juxtaposition of simplicity and that of artist's choice continues the constructive meticulousness established during Albers' time with the Bauhaus. This intense conversation seen in Fall Finale reveals the coming tide of post-modern minimalism that runs through contemporary art today.

    Inspired by Albers, artists such as Mark Rothko and Donald Judd similarly grasp onto a painterly element and pry it apart so as to best understand the process and power art holds against the viewer. Seen in his repetitive use of tonal comparisons and rectangular forms, the tonality of Rothko's works express a wide range of emotion, choosing to fold the pigments together to create a unique expression and experience all the while reworking the same painterly process over and over. Similarly, Judd goes beyond the initial limits of painting and more so in sculpture in order to explore the limits of shape and color while occupying the space of the viewer - penetrating the viewer's plane in the hopes of calling into question where art begins and where the viewer's experience ends. When asked about the importance placed on the viewer, Albers notes that they are the vessel in which art is processed, whereas painterly elements "demonstrate that true mobility is not achieved by making an object move but making an object that makes us move - besides moving us" (ibid, p. 335).
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