Influential art theorist and teacher (at Black Mountain College and, later, at Yale University School of Art), Joseph Albers was a key contributor to a brand of rigidly geometric abstraction that defined much of late-20th-century painting. This work is part of a large series of so-called homages he produced to explore the formal qualities and expressive potential of the square. Characteristically, Albers’s composition presents nesting squares (or are they superimposed?). The dimensions of the warm-brown and red squares mimic the overall dimensions of the picture plane, defined by a golden ground in (or on) which the other squares appear to float like religious deities in early Renaissance art. While the squares diminish in scale, their color intensity (somewhat counterintuitively) increases, thus producing a dynamic spatial effect. The squares’ movement toward the composition’s bottom edge suggests the effects of gravity.
abstract; geometry; square
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