Josef Albers

Anatomy of Homage to the Square

Villa dei Cedri Museum, Bellinzona
28 September 2019 – 2 February 2020

Seeing with your Hands. Tactile itinerary on shapes and colours.

Sala Arsenale, Castelgrande
28 September 2019 – 19 January 2020
Project curated by Atlante Cultural Services
with Institute for the Blind in Milan

Josef Albers’ exhibition – Anatomy of Homage to the Square – was dedicated to Pietro Bellasi. It was organised by Magonza and the Villa dei Cedri Museum in Bellinzona  in collaboration with The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut / USA . It was curated by Marco Pierini and Carole Haensler.
By means of a mainly unpublished sequence of oil paintings, prints and sketches by Josef Albers (1888-1976), the German artist and colour theorist, the exhibition traces the genesis of an icon of the twentieth century Homage to the Square. In this series – starting in 1949 and developed for more than a quarter of a century – Albers analyses the interactions of colour in strictly square backgrounds of different sizes and shades, superimposed one over another. Adopting an almost ritualistic approach, the artist in this way explores the modulations of light and colour in more than 2,000 works, revealing them in motives, shapes and processes that are infinite and, at the same time, invariable. The square delimits the field of unlimited creative liberty.
The result of an in-depth investigation, this series illustrates the artistic experiences of Albers, developed during his years spent teaching at the Bauhaus in Dessau (1925-1933) and at the Black Mountain College (1933- 1949). Contrary to any theoretical instruction, Albers encourages his students to learn from practice alone and to find their artistic and technical solutions for themselves. It represents a new approach , not just to the teaching of art, but also to the vision of artistic practice itself.
A second exhibition, entitled Seeing With Your Hands. Tactile path on shapes and colours, linked directly to Villa dei Cedri, has been organised in Castelgrande.
Josef Albers was convinced that the perception of an artwork was the fruit of an individual effort to forge a relationship with it. By retracting its forms, the viewer reconstructs the work, learning, literally “to open his or her eyes”. The tactile itinerary Vedere con le mani (Seeing With Your Hands) is inspired by this experimental approach and explores the potential of an art exhibition accessible to everyone, in particular visually impaired visitors. Tactile reproductions of certain works introduce a new way of learning about compositional structures and forms, charts and practical exercises on colour highlight the relativity of optical perception, and the sensory corridor offers an opportunity for experimentation, in the dark, with materials typical of Albers’s research. Audio and visual documentation is also available to help visitors familiarise themselves with this new, sensory-based method of learning about and accessing abstract art.

Anatomy of Homage to the Square

Seeing with your Hands.
Tactile itinerary on shapes and colours.