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Josef Albers
(American, b. Germany, 1888-1976)
Variant I, 1966
Silkscreen, 82/207, 8 ¼” x 13”
Anonymous gift (89.017.010)

Related to a series of paintings begun in the 1940s, Josef Albers’ screenprint, Variant I, takes its inspiration from the simple forms of Mexican adobe (mud brick) houses.  Subject matter and artistic intervention are reduced as much as possible, leaving color as the primary means of visual expression.  Consisting of flat planes arranged into rectilinear areas, Variant I relies on the subtle interaction of value and tone to create spatial ambiguities and to elicit an emotional response from the viewer. 

Albers spent much of his career experimenting with color effects.  A native of Germany, he was drawn to art through his study of Paul Cézanne and other European modernists.  Entering the progressive school in Weimar known as the Bauhaus in 1920, the artist became a faculty member within a few years, remaining there until the school was closed by the Nazi regime in 1933.  Soon afterwards, Albers immigrated to the United States, where he became an influential instructor of modern art and color theory.  His extensive Homage to the Square series is perhaps his best known work, and was of seminal importance to later modern movements, including Op Art and Minimalism.  Albers died in 1976.