Friday, October 23, 2015

Search Versus Re-Search: Josef Albers, Artist and Educator at Yale University (Revised)

“Search Versus Re-Search: Josef Albers, Artist and Educator” approaches the work of Albers through his experiential teaching methodology while a professor at the Yale School of Art from 1950 to 1958. The concise exhibition presents Albers’ works alongside exercises with color, material, and line undertaken by his students. The intimate space of Yale’s Edgewood Gallery provides visitors with an encounter that successfully translates Albers’ belief in art as experience, focusing on practice over result. His dedication to teaching and his diverse and thorough methods reflect his search for novelty through experimentation.

Albers’ color theory, brought together in his book Interaction of Color, from 1963, is clearly presented throughout the exhibition. Folios of the book, students' collages with colored cut paper, and some of Albers’ paintings – including a couple from the Homage to the Square series – are complemented with tablets displaying a recently launched app that lets visitors venture into exercises from the book. Here, interactive technology serves the purpose of adapting the book to the screen, making it widely accessible and allowing users to experience Albers' teaching methods.

However, the exhibition shows that Albers’ studies went far beyond color theory. The simple exercises with materials and lines – as seen in the three dimensional paper-folding structures, the delicate wire and woven patterns, and the black and white drawings in the central vitrines – reflect Albers’ emphasis on the creative process. One leaves the exhibition renewed, as if Albers’ work could lower our pace by teaching us to value simplicity, observation, and practice.    

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