Joseph Albers

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Josef Albers (March 19, 1888March 26, 1976) was a German artist, mathematician and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the 20th century.

Sourced[edit]

  • Every perception of colour is an illusion.. ..we do not see colours as they really are. In our perception they alter one another. (remark around 1949, when he started his ‘Homage to the Square’ series, fh)
    • Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson 1990, p. 147


  • The concern of the artist is with the discrepancy between physical fact and psychological effect.
    • Albers Paints a Picture Elaine de Kooning, Art News 49, November 1950, p. 40, as quoted in Abstract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, p. 67


  • I want color and form to have contradictorily functions.
    • Albers Paints a Picture Elaine de Kooning, Art News 49, November 1950, p. 57, , as quoted in Abstract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, p. 67


  • ...besides relatedness and influence I should like to see that my colors remain, as much as possible, a “face” – their own “face”, as it was achieved –uniquely—and I believe consciously—in Pompeian wall-paintings—by admitting coexistence of such polarities as being dependent and independent—being dividual and individual.
    • The Color in my Painting, Josef Albers, as quoted in "Hommage to the square, Josef Albers", MOMA, New York 1964, n.p.


  • I discovered soon that teaching has the handicap of retrospection. And that I don't believe in. So I started instead a method of handling material with the material itself. So that was my main change. Whereas Itten before (Itten left the Bauhaus in 1923 and Albers followed him as art teacher) had only spoken about the appearance, "matiere" - (the French word) and I said I would turn from "matiere" - the outside - to the inside, to the capacity of the material, before the appearance. And that changed the attitude basically I think.
    • Oral history interview with Josef Albers, conducted by Sevim Fesci, 22 June – 5 July 1968, for the "Archives of American Art", Smithsonian Institution


  • There science is dealing with physical facts, in art we are dealing with psychic effects. With this I come to my first statement: The source of art – that is, where it comes from – is the discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect. That’s what I’m talking about. When I want to speak about why I am doing the same thing now, which is squares, for – how long? – 19 years. Because there is no final solution in any visual formulation. Although this may be just a belief on my part, I have some assurances that that is not the most stupid thing to do, through Cézanne, whom I consider as one of the greatest painters. From Cézanne we have, so the historians tell us – 250 paintings of Mont St. Victoire. But we know that Cézanne has left in the fields often more than he took home because he was disappointed with his work. So we may conclude he did many more than 250 of the same problem.
    • Oral history interview with Josef Albers, conducted by Sevim Fesci, 22 June – 5 July 1968, for the "Archives of American Art", Smithsonian Institution

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