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Documentation Signed
Period 1950-1979
Materials Pen and black ink on paper
Dimensions
W. 13 in; H. 10.5 in;
W. 33.02 cm; H. 26.67 cm;
Condition Excellent.
Creation Date 1962
Description Joseph Albers, Drawing of a Structural Constellation I & II, 1962

Both signed with artist’s monogram and dated ’62, lower right.

PROVENANCE:
[Robert Elkon Gallery, New York]
William C. Collins, Portland, Maine, acquired directly from the above, 1960s
By descent in the family to private collection
[Sale: CRN Auctions, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Annual Spring Auction, May 20, 1018, lot 1]
Private collection, Massachusetts, acquired directly from the above

These works will be included in the catalogue raisonne of the artist’s works being prepared by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation as JAAF 1962.3.4 and JAAF 1962.3.5


Born in Germany in 1888, Josef Albers taught elementary school near his hometown of Bottrop while developing his skills as a figurative artist and printmaker. He enrolled at the Bauhaus in 1920 and began making glass constructions, stained-glass windows, furniture, and household objects. He married fellow student Annelise (Anni) Fleischmann in 1925 and became the first Bauhaus student to join the faculty of the school. That year, the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau and into a building designed by the founder of the school, Walter Gropius. During the latter half of the 1920s and early 1930s, Albers worked with other Bauhaus “Masters” including Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Lyonel Feininger.

The Bauhaus closed in 1933 under pressure from the rising Nazi Party, and the couple relocated to the United States in November of that year when Josef was asked to establish the visual arts curriculum at the new Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Owned and operated by the faculty, the college community participated in the operation of the school which was committed to democratic governance and the arts as central to the experience of learning. Ruth Asawa, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly were just a few of the many artists who spent time at Black Mountain as students and faculty. The Alberses remained there until 1949. In addition to teaching, Josef explored Abstract painting and varying printmaking techniques, while Anni focused on weaving and textiles.

In 1950, the Alberses moved to Connecticut, where Josef was Chairman of the Department of Design at the Yale University School of Art until 1958. He also began his Homage to the Square series of paintings in 1950, a body of work he continued until his death in 1976. These Geometric Abstract paintings are comprised of several squares placed within one another with slight variations in color; the contrast between the shades in these works makes color the primary focus over formal composition. The Homage to the Square and the Structural Constellations series are the artist’s best-known works.

This pair of drawings from the Structural Constellations series is comprised of deceptively simple compositions in which straight lines create illusionary forms. These examples are complete and finished drawings and distinct compared to those that were made as gifts or as preparatory sketches for prints and architectural projects, including a Structural Constellation engraving in the lobby of the Corning Glass Building in New York City (1959).

Albers had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Denise Rene, Paris in 1957, and in 1964, the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art organized the exhibition Josef Albers: Homage to the Square which opened in Caracas, Venezuela, and traveled to museums throughout the Americas through 1967. He was the first living artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971, and his work was exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally during this period and after his death. He received numerous awards including the Ford Foundation Fellowship (1959), Graham Foundation Fellowship (1962), Carnegie Institute Award for Painting (1967), and the Fine Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects (1975), among others. In addition to painting and printmaking, Albers produced mural and architectural commissions, and photographs and published Interaction of Color in 1963.

These drawings were originally owned by the artist William Charles Collins (1925-2007), Director of the Portland Art School in Maine (now the Maine College of Art) in the 1970s.
Styles / Movements Abstract Expressionism, Modernism
Incollect Reference Number 287669
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