EST. 2009

April 18, 2017

That Graphic Tectonic

JOSEPH ALBERS WAS EXPLORING OPTICAL ILLUSIONS when he produced his Graphic Tectonic series. Referencing geological matter and movement, the monochromatic lithographs use geometry to give the perception of dimension to otherwise flat graphics.

Although Albers is more popularly known for the hundreds of colorful paintings comprising his Homage to the Square series, Graphic Tectonic reflects his distinct approach to composition. Creating "maximum effect from minimum means" the lithographs embody the phrase widely used to describe his principles in general.

Beyond his art, Albers was an educator recognized for laying the groundwork for some of the most influential art education programs of the 20th century. Between Germany and the United States, he held a string of teaching positions at such schools as the Bauhaus in 1923, the Black Mountain College in 1933, and at Yale until his retirement in 1958. Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg were among his notable students.

Noted for putting practice before theory, Albers advocated learning through conscious practice and required his pupils to become familiar with the physical nature of the world. Producing countless renowned artists, as well as students who became teachers themselves, Albers's legacy and influence on art is understated. Or shall we say: it was tectonic.

Shrine, Ascension and Interim from the series Graphic Tectonic by Josef Albers. Images from