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Josef Albers/ Donald Judd
Thematic Variations

February 09 through April 28, 2019

On view in the Wilson, Hughes, and Williamson Galleries


Working with serial imagery, both Josef Albers (American, born Germany, 1888–1976) and Donald Judd (American, 1928–1994) created works that explore variations on color and form. With a great awareness and respect of each other’s work, they both approached geometric shapes formally in order to explore the inherent aspects of any artwork: form, structure, and color.

In his landmark series, Homage to a Square, 1962, and later in the portfolio Formulation: Articulation, 1972, among other works, artist and mathematician Josef Albers investigated color interactions and how the human eye processes the shifting characteristics of color when placed in various configurations. Utilizing repetitive shapes combined with bands or blocks of color Albers played with perception in works of art that pulse and shift with movement.

Similarly, Judd proposed that art could be logical, direct, and unemotional. He wrote, “A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn’t be concealed as part of a fairly different whole.”  His austere and reductive forms are neutral, avoiding any symbolic associations.  Instead, he sees his forms as either a part of a mathematical sequence or a meditation on mass and voids, tranquility and motion, and illusion and reality, as seen Untitled Portfolio of 16 Etchings, 1978, a portfolio of prints exploring the parallelogram.

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Josef Albers, Untitled (Portfolio I, Folder 20), 1972, from the portfolio, Formulation: Articulation, screen print on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr., in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr., 1989.11.21