Geometric patterning in art has been prominent in various cultures for centuries, but the focus on the square as a form worthy of singular investigation has its roots in modern art. Beginning in the early twentieth century, with the rise of abstraction in art, European and American artists turned to geometry, with many favoring the bold beauty of the square. A square, both simple and complex, embodies a perfect mathematical equation that symbolizes balance.
German-born, American artist Josef Albers (1888–1976), was one of the earliest American artists to use the square as a subject. Albers spent his career exploring this minimal shape through his series of paintings, Homage to the Square, which he began in 1950 and continued for over twenty years. Influenced by mathematics, Albers embraced the power of illusion, playing with perception and color in his paintings and prints. He believed in the power of pure and unadulterated color and straightforward shapes. Albers’ series Formulation: Articulation, 1972, continued the explorations he began in Homage to the Square, by approaching geometric shapes formally to investigate the inherent aspects of any artwork: form, structure, and color.
The artists featured in SQUARE OFF continue Albers’ legacy by delving into the humble square to create evocative and inventive interpretations of this basic geometric shape.
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.
Above: Herb Jackson (American, born 1945), Fire (State I), (detail), 1973, color lithograph on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 1974.2