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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Josef Albers

(1888 - 1976), Germany

Josef Albers was a German-born American artist and educator who remains one of the most influential abstract painters of the 20th century. As a student and later a professor at the Bauhaus in Weimar and later Dessau, Germany, he played a significant role in introducing the tenets of European Modernism to America when he fled Nazi Germany in 1933. His colour theories and paintings, which emphasised the role of colour over that of form, promote an approach to painting that is based on observation and experimentation.

Albers' three-decade teaching career began in 1922 when the Bauhaus hired him to work in the glass workshop. From 1923, he taught design in the institution's Preliminary course. By 1925, he was teaching alongside Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky as a professor, whilst he continued to work in glass as well as furniture design and typography. Upon his emigration to America in 1933—forced by Nazi hostility to the Bauhaus for its modernist tendencies, which they considered to be 'un-German'—Albers was appointed as head of the art department at Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, and stayed there until 1949. Although the new liberal arts college was to close prematurely in 1957, it was instrumental in exposing the minds of many young American artists, such as Ray Johnson, Kenneth Noland and Robert Rauschenberg, to the principles of Modernism and abstraction. While Albers continued the teachings of the Bauhaus at Black Mountain College, his colour theories were also influenced by his contemporaries there, including the philosopher John Dewey. From 1950 until his retirement in 1958, Albers was the chair of the Department of Design at Yale University.

As a painter, Albers is most remembered for his 'Homage to the Square' series, which he began in 1950 and worked on for 26 years. The paintings in this series are defined by a successive superimposition of squares upon one another, sometimes in varying shades of a single colour (Departing in Yellow, 1964) and sometimes in complementary colours (a painting in red and blue, titled Homage to the Square: Against Deep Blue, from 1955). Albers painted directly from the tube with a palette knife as a way of creating a 'pure' painting, free of brushstrokes. Through their abstracted forms and solid colours, his paintings contemplate human emotion and the light of different times of day and season. Albers was particularly interested in the nuanced chromatic or tonal juxtaposition of colours, once remarking that although midnight and noon cannot exist together in life, they can in a painting.

A prolific writer and a multidisciplinary artist during his lifetime, Albers published poetry, articles and art theories and worked in painting, printmaking, murals and architecture. He designed Two Portals (1961) at the Time and Life Building in New York, then Manhattan (1963) at the Pan Am Building in the same city. Both works reflect his exploration of the relationships between colours and adopt his signature rectangular motifs. Of his published writings, Interaction of Colour (1963) is arguably the most cited.

During his lifetime, Albers had solo exhibitions at numerous institutions, including the San Francisco Museum of Art (1940); The Germanic Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge (1936) and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover (1935). In 1955 and 1968, he participated in documenta 1 and 4 respectively, and in 1971 he was the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Recent exhibitions include Josef Albers in Mexico, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017–2018), Josef Albers: Minimal Means, Maximum Effect, Fundación Juan March, Madrid (2014) and Painting on Paper: Josef Albers in America, Pinakothek der Modern, Munich (2010). The two exhibitions travelled to various cities in seven countries. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded in 1971, has also organised exhibitions and publications to preserve and promote the Albers' legacy.

Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Never Before by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersNever Before, 1976 Portfolio of 12 screenprints
48.3 x 50.8 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Study for Homage to the Square by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersStudy for Homage to the Square Oil, graphite on blotting paper
12 x 6 1/4 inches
David Zwirner
Study for screenprint EK (Edition Keller) If by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersStudy for screenprint EK (Edition Keller) If, c. 1970 Oil on blotting paper
12 x 13 inches
David Zwirner
SP III by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersSP III, 1967 Screenprint on Schöllers Hammer Board
24.25 x 24.25 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery
SP II by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersSP II, 1967 Screenprint on Schöllers Hammer Board paper
24.25 x 24.25 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery
Tectonische Gruppe (Tectonic group) by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersTectonische Gruppe (Tectonic group), 1925 Sand blasted orange opaque glass, white etching, black paint
29.6 x 45.6 cm
Hauser & Wirth
Study to homage to the square: apodictic by Josef Albers contemporary artwork
Josef AlbersStudy to homage to the square: apodictic, 1950–1954 Oil on masonite
40.4 x 40.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Interaction of Colour at Cristea Roberts Gallery, London
Closed
7 September–26 October 2019 Group Exhibition Interaction of Colour Cristea Roberts Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, max bill bauhaus constellations at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
Closed
9 June–14 September 2019 Group Exhibition max bill bauhaus constellations Hauser & Wirth, Zürich
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, The Sylvio Perlstein Collection A Luta Continua at Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong
Closed
23 May–27 July 2019 Group Exhibition The Sylvio Perlstein Collection A Luta Continua Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong

Represented By

In Related Press

View All (10)
LOOSE CANON Related Press LOOSE CANON ARTFORUM : 21 October 2019

IN JUNE, NEW YORK'S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WENT DARK to put the finishing touches on its contentious five-year expansion, which promised to put $450 million and 47,000 square feet of Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture toward fostering a 'deeper experience of art' across boundaries of media, geography, and identity. Today, MoMA emerges from its...

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The Colors of the Sixties Related Press The Colors of the Sixties Hyperallergic : 6 April 2019

The eighth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as David Breslin, the Director of the Collection, sees it, is 'a place for surprises.'The elegant spaces of the museum's top floor, catching the light off the river through its skylights and glass walls, have felt enchanted ever since it opened in 2015 with the Early Modernist 'Forms...

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Albers opens eyes to Mexico Related Press Albers opens eyes to Mexico The New Criteron : 28 February 2018

It is possible that society has never been more poorly prepared than in the present cultural moment to appreciate an artist like Josef Albers (1888–1976). The German-American painter's deliberate, introspective, and contemplative art seems in many ways to be utterly incompatible with our overriding fascination with the big, the 'now,' the...

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Homage to Mexico: Josef Albers and His Reality-Based Abstraction Related Press Homage to Mexico: Josef Albers and His Reality-Based Abstraction The New York Times : 14 December 2017

Art rarely thrives in a vacuum. It is by definition polyglot and in flux, buffeted by the movement of art objects, goods and people across borders and among cultures, and also by individual passion. This much, especially the passion part, is demonstrated by "Josef Albers in Mexico," a quietly stunning exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum...

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In Video & Audio

A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Related Video & Audio A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Hauser & Wirth : 8 May 2018

Unfolding across all three floors of Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street, A Luta Continua is the first United States presentation of the Sylvio Perlstein Collection. Curated by David Rosenberg, the exhibition presents more than 360 works by some 250 artists. Among these are Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Diane Arbus, Hans Bellmer, André Breton,...

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