Josef Albers’ current exhibition displays the 20th-century artist’s work with vibrancy.
“Search vs. Research, Josef Albers, Artist and Educator,” curated by Yale School of Art Professor Anoka Faruqee, opened Tuesday at the YSOA’s 32 Edgewood gallery. The exhibition showcases 18 of Albers’ lesser-known works in addition to 60 pieces made decades ago by his students. The works collectively highlight his influence on the YSOA, where he served as a professor from 1950 to 1958. The exhibit will also feature videos of six interviews with individuals who discussed their recollections of Albers.
YSOA painting and printmaking professor Munro Galloway emphasized Albers’ impact on the school’s curriculum.
Albers, who escaped from Nazi Germany in 1933, was known primarily for his works on the interaction of color in the visual arts, including his “Homage to the Square” collection. Faruqee said the exhibit constructs Albers’ life through an unused lens, portraying his pedagogical influence and artistic versatility as an architect, graphic designer and painter. She noted that the exhibition is unique in that it consists of prints, drawings and paintings that are more focused on structure and spatial qualities than on colors.
Faruqee said she selected Albers as the main subject of the exhibition because of his influence on art education at Yale. Galloway said he draws inspiration from Albers in his teaching today; he currently teaches an undergraduate course titled “Color Practice,” which investigates a theme for which Albers was renowned: the relationships between colors as they overlap on screen or paper.
Faruqee said she first conceived of the exhibit’s concept over a year ago, adding the title is taken from a 1969 essay that Albers wrote on his teaching methodology. He believed searching is the idea of a direct experience through experimentation and inventiveness, while research is the analysis of something from the past, she noted.
In comparing the exhibit to the permanent collection of Albers’ work at the Yale University Art Gallery, Faruqee said the latter does not reflect the full breadth of his work as it lacks many of the artist’s more experimental pieces.
“Many of the works in [“Search vs. Research”] will be more fragile, ephemeral … One gets a broader approach to his art and his teaching,” Anoka said.
Two students interviewed said Albers continues to leave a lasting impression in the visual arts as well as in arts education at Yale.
Meg Mathile ’16, who majors in art, added that she was first exposed to Albers through YSOA professor Robert Reed, who passed away last December. Mathile noted that certain aspects of Albers’s teaching live on, as the public critiques of student artwork that Albers advocated for during his time at Yale are now an essential part of the YSOA and the undergraduate art program.
“Albers had a huge impact on my work,” Mathile said. “Much of what Professor Reed taught stemmed from Albers’ ideas around color and color interaction — [ideas] that I think made me reevaluate how color communicates the content of my work.”
Faruqee added that Albers’ book, “Interaction of Color,” is still used in undergraduate and graduate classes at Yale.
“Search vs. Research” will close on Nov. 28.