A small, but perfectly formed selection from the works of Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) at the Galleria Natiozionale dell’Umbria, Perugia is well worth a visit.

It reflects the German artist’s life and work before and after his defining period as a student at the Bauhaus in Weiner, from 1920 until it was closed by the Third Reich in 1933.

In America, Albers taught at Black Mountain College, North Carolina and Yale University Art School. He and his wife became U.S. citizens in 1939.

The poster for the exhibition uses his oil painting, White Cross, from 1937; a piece with obvious similarities to Mark Rothko.

Interlinear N32 bl (1962) – saying more with less

This abstract-impressionist style can also be witnessed in a series called Homage to the Square which he began in 1950.

Examples of these, painted in the last year of his life, suggest that the longer he lived, the more he strove for a purity of form, to perfect a minimalist technique of saying more with less.

This philosophy also pervades earlier geometrical designs where he sought to use a “minimum of effort for a quantum of effect”.

With Mystic Rose (1917) on stained glass he wanted to convey a “retrained inner glow”.

On canvas, colors contrasted with the gloom of the world “to soften the boundaries of the cosmos”.

The exhibition is subtitled ‘Spirituality and Rigor’ and though none of the images have overtly biblical symbolism, the religious inspiration is always evident.

Related links:
The Albers Foundation website.
Galleria nazionale dell’Umbria 
Full text of ‘Josef Albers : Glass, color and light ‘(Internet Archive)

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