Following an influential career at The Bauhaus school in Wiemer, Germany (1919 – 33) Josef Albers fled the Nazi regime and emigrated to the United States, where he taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and then at Yale in Connecticut. Beginning in 1949 and continuing over the next twenty-five years, he created his celebrated Homage to the Square series, which is composed of more than a thousand works including paintings, drawings, prints, and tapestries. These works are based on a template of geometric abstraction, a mathematically determined format of several squares overlapping or nesting within one another. These works represent Alber’s experiments with theories of color and spatial relationships, which were informed by his studies of Mexican pyramids and pre-Colombian architectonic principles. Homage to the Square: On Near Sky was painted in 1963.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
In Paul Klee’s painting, Around the Fish (1926), a garnished platter of fish is surrounded by a constellation of seemingly disparate elements — a cross, full and crescent moons, an exclamation point, a forked red flag — all hovering against a dark abyss.
Some of Klee’s iconography grew out of his teaching. The arrow, which he initially used as a teaching tool to indicate force and emotion for his students at the Bauhaus, here points confrontationally towards a stylized head, possibly alluding to human consciousness. Although they are often enigmatic, Klee believed his personal hieroglyphs and figurative elements had wider connotations: “The object grows beyond its appearance through our knowledge of its inner being, through the knowledge that the thing is more than its outward aspect suggests.”
Around the Fish is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and is currently on view on the 5th Floor, in Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 7.
Walter Gropius, German Architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, was born on this day, May 18th, in 1883. I admit to feeling a special sort of insider kinship with the Bauhaus, not only because I love band that took its name from this forward thinking movement of Architecture and Design, but because I once worked for an architectural firm whose founding partners has previously worked with another great Bauhaus architect, Marcel Breuer. Breuer designed those cool chairs that everybody has in their kitchens.