Sultan writes: "There are so many beautiful color thoughts in these simple studies... Some of the works were small, quick explorations of color relationships. A fascinating aspect of Albers painting practice was that he never mixed colors; he used color straight from the tube, except for pink and purple, which he mixed. He sampled many different brands of the same hue, writing copious notes on the studies, and in that way, had complete control over the color relationships. I love the note on the bottom of [the] piece: 'Try again'. A quote from Albers tells us: 'I try to create the silence of an icon. That's what I'm after: the meditative icons of the 20th century.' "
Artist/teachers from Thomas Eakins to Robert Henri and Charles W. Hawthorne have played an important role in shaping generations of American artists. From the mid-century and into the post-war period Josef Albers had a great and lasting influence on American art. His famous color exercises, collected in the seminal text The Interaction of Color, were published in 1963 with the help of his students.
Micchelli writes: "What is most striking about Albers’ studies, beginning with the adobe paintings and into the later “Homage to the Square” motifs, is how much they seem, like a piece of architecture, to have been built. The paint is knifed on, and in many of the works the soft, absorbent blotting paper support sucks up just enough oil to leave an ever-so-slight bleed around the swatches’ edges. This material interaction, which gives the impression that the paint is lifting off the paper, or, in other instances, that the surface is a colorfully realized bas-relief sculpture, endows these studies with a thing-ness that elude Albers’ finished works."
The museum notes that the exhibition's focus on exploratory studies "will reveal a private side of Albers's work... On view will be early studies (1930s–early 1940s), studies for Albers's Adobe series, inspired by Mexican architecture (1940s–early 1950s), and studies for Homage to the Square (1950s–1970s). These vibrant sketches provide insights into the artist's working process and, in contrast with the austerity and strict geometry of the final paintings, are remarkable for their freedom and sensuality."
Naves writes: "The majority of Josef Albers in America is dedicated to informal studies on paper. Covered with scrawled notations, flurried applications of color and grease stains, they reveal Albers’s rigorous methodology at its most approachable. No Platonic exegeses here, thank you; instead we have the remnants of work-a-day life in the studio. The Morgan show allows us to experience Albers as a man given to curiosity and play—and it prompts double-takes."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.