Josef Albers

Study for Homage to the Square


Not on display

Josef Albers 1888–1976
Oil paint on fibreboard
Support: 762 × 762 mm
frame: 778 × 778 × 35 mm
Presented by Mrs Anni Albers, the artist's widow and the Josef Albers Foundation 1978

Display caption

In 1950, at the age of 62, Albers began what would become his signature series, the Homage to the Square. Over the next 26 years, until his death in 1976, he produced hundreds of variations on the basic compositional scheme of three or four squares set inside each other, with the squares slightly gravitating towards the bottom edge. What may at first appear to be a very narrow conceptual framework reveals itself as one of extraordinary perceptual complexity. In 1965, he wrote of the series: ‘They all are of different palettes, and, therefore, so to speak, of different climates. Choice of the colours used, as well as their order, is aimed at an interaction - influencing and changing each other forth and back. Thus, character and feeling alter from painting to painting without any additional ‘hand writing’ or, so-called, texture. Though the underlying symmetrical and quasi-concentric order of squares remains the same in all paintings – in proportion and placement – these same squares group or single themselves, connect and separate in many different ways.’

Gallery label, December 2012

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Catalogue entry

Josef Albers 1888-1976

T02311 Study for Homage to the Square 1963

Inscribed 'A63' b.r. and on back at top '6 x Liquit - Cobalt Green Lt (Shiva) - Reilly's #4 (Grumb) - Raw Sienna (Shiva)'; also on back 'Ground: 6 coats of liquitex (permt pigment) | painting: paints used -from center : | Cobalt Green Light (Shiva) | Reilly's Gray #4 (Grumbacher) | Raw Sienna (Shiva) | all in one primary coat | all directly from the tube | Varnish: VARNISH WITH BUTYL METHACRYLATE POLYMER IN XYLENE DANIEL GOLDREYER LTD. APRIL 1964 [sic]'
Oil on masonite panel, 30 x 30 (76.2 x 76.2)
Presented by Anni Albers and the Josef Albers Foundation 1978

This picture, like T02312, is one of the B format, in that the largest square has been omitted. The colours, from the centre out, are Cobalt Green Light (Shiva), Reilly's Grey No. 4 (Grumbacher), and Raw Sienna (Shiva).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.5-6, reproduced p.5

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