Josef Albers touring exhibition comes to Berwick Gymnasium Gallery

By Alice Burton | 15 July 2009
Graphic linear painting of steps

(Above) Steps, from Structural Constellations series. Picture courtesy The Gymnasium Gallery

Exhibition: Josef Albers: Screenprints, The Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, until August 2 2009

The Hayward touring exhibition Josef Albers: Screen Prints will appear at the Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed until August 2. Albers is best known for his 'Homage to the Square' series, but there is much more to his work than meets the eye.

Josef Albers played a huge role in the modern art movement in the USA and Europe. The German-born artist taught at the Bauhaus until its closure in 1933 before settling in the USA to teach at Black Mountain College and later, Yale. He published his teachings in the book, The Interaction of Colour, and still influences many artists today.

Graphic linear shapes

Seclusion, from Graphic Tectonic series. Picture courtesy The Gymnasium Gallery

The exhibition will feature around 70 prints from throughout Albers' career, including his 'Graphic Tectonic' series of the early 1940s, 'Structural Constellations', 'Variants', and his famous 'Homages' paintings.

Visitors will be able to explore Albers' obsession with colours, shadows and shapes and how this led to the transition in his work over the years, starting out with architecturally inspired complex linear studies, to brash blocks of solid colour. No matter what era, each striking piece is distinctively 'Albers.'

Optical contradiction of scrolls

Rolled wrongly. Picture courtesy The Gymnasium Gallery

Albers' interest in linear shapes is evident in all his work, and he often experimented with optical illusions, using different sized lines or tessellating shapes to make forms that look like they are protruding from the frame. Much like MC Escher, he created many contradicting shapes which leave the viewers puzzled and fascinated.

Like many artists, Albers did not like to be put into any sort of artistic category, and distinguishing himself from other American minimalists of the era, he believed in diversity and variability. For Albers even the concept of colour was relative, believing that perceptions of colour vary from person to person and that colour can change according to its juxtaposition with other colours and themes.

Painting of different coloured squares inside each other

Homage to the square. Picture courtesy The Gymnasium Gallery

His fascination with colour is particularly evident in his 'Homages' series, which is arguably his most famous work, consisting of a number of coloured shapes, most often squares, inside each other.

He once described them as 'the dish I serve my craziness about color in,' and they again create an illusion of a three-dimensional object. He painted hundreds of these artworks, experimenting with different colours, shades and shapes, making each one unique.

The Gymnasium Gallery is part of English Heritage's Berwick Future project. To find out more about this exhibition, call 01289 304493.

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