Feb 22, 2020 · 2:27 PM

Date 1959
Image dimensions 16.5 x 22.5 cm
Plate dimensions 39 x 39 cm
Technique/material Plastic panel, wood panel
Credit Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Sammlung Rolf und Friedel Gutmann
Inv. no. SK08015
Josef Albers

Strukturale Konstellation S V-3 [Structural constellation S V-3]

Josef Albers (born 1888 in Bottrop, Germany, died 1976 in New Haven/ Conn., USA) was first a student and then a teacher at the Bauhaus. From 1923 until the school closed in 1933, he taught various subjects, including the preliminary course as well as glass and furniture workshops. Thanks to his experience as an art educator, he acquired a teaching position in 1933 at the newly founded, interdisciplinary Black Mountain College in North Carolina, USA, serving as the head of its art department until 1949. From 1950 to 1958, he was the head of the Department of Design of Yale University, after which he continued to lecture at American and European institutions on an invitational basis.
The main body of Josef Albers’ artistic and art theoretical works was created in the US. His name is inseparably tied to his series of works “Homage to the Square” (which he began in 1949) and the book associated with it called “Interaction of Color” (1963). According to the literature about him, Albers focused on exactly two themes: color in painting, and the line in graphic arts. Regarding both, his intention was to help the beholder from “faktiven An-Sehen zu aktivem An-Schauen” (factual to active seeing) and to address aspects of perceptual psychology. His distinction between “Factual Fact” and “Actual Fact,” or factual order and optical perception, takes on an almost paradoxical and exaggerated form in another series of works, also begun in 1949, called “Structural Constellations.” These paintings feature interlinking geometric shapes with two or more sides, creating spatial illusions that run counter to the laws of physical three-dimensionality. According to Max Imdahl (1968), Albers’ series revolves around “a way of structuring planes and space that constantly strives toward a solution that is ultimately impossible.” Albers began to explore this theme more and more in graphic constructions in the 1960s, primarily in the form of black engravings on Resopal, in which the white lines are created by the engraving’s exposure of the white ground.
As an artist, art theorist, and educator, Josef Albers had a long-lasting impact on the development of modernism in Europe and the US. His research on the interaction of color has not only influenced Color Field Painting and Op Art; it also continues to serve as a foundation for artistic and art theoretical practice today.

Elisabeth Grossmann




With financial support by:

Lotteriefonds Canton of Zurich

Baugarten Stiftung
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Dr. Adolph Streuli-Stiftung
Stiftung Kunstsammlung Albert und Melanie Rüegg



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Feb 22, 2020
2:15:00 PM CET