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Fondazione Stelline opens Josef Albers: Sublime Optics

The Fondazione Stelline presents Josef Albers: Sublime Optics an exhibition on view September 26, 2013–January 6, 2014, in collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Milan’s first ever monographic exhibition of the work of the great modernist and Bauhaus artist Josef Albers.

Josef Albers, Variant / Adobe, Pink Orange Surrounded by 4 Grays, 1947–1952. Oil on masonite, 38.1 x 68.6 cm. © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society New York, 2013.
Josef Albers, Variant / Adobe, Pink Orange Surrounded by 4 Grays, 1947–1952. Oil on masonite, 38.1 x 68.6 cm. © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society New York, 2013.

Josef Albers: Sublime Optics explores the spiritual elements in Albers’s art. Maintaining his religious practice lifelong, Albers incorporated traditional imagery in a lot of his work, and, even when he did not, regarded transformation of color and line as spiritual, even mystical, events.

It is the less religious sense of Albers’s spirituality that this exhibition addresses. Sublime Optics considers Albers’s experiments with line, form, and color, in turn, and evaluates how he was able to create further mysteries in the world—ones that can act as spiritual exercises for our eyes. He is like a mystic optician, fitting us with lenses to better see the sublime around us.

Curated and installed by Nick Murphy, and based on an exhibition conceived and selected by Nicholas Fox Weber (Executive Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation), Josef Albers: Sublime Optics offers a unique perspective on the Bauhaus Master.

At the Bauhaus, Italy was an important source of inspiration. In 1934, the year following the closing of the Bauhaus, Wassily Kandinsky organized an exhibition of Albers’s prints in Milan. This is the first time there has been an exhibition of Josef Albers’s work in Milan since that exhibition nearly 80 years ago.

The exhibition will present 78 works from Albers’s entire career—from his very first known drawing to his very last Homage to the Square. This includes rare early drawings, stained-glass assemblages, sandblasted glass constructions, and a range of pure abstract paintings. Underlying all these works is Albers’s reverence for clear and honest thinking, and his firm belief that devotion to craftsmanship and truthfulness can transform the everyday miraculously.

Albers always declared the need to make arts accessible to the greatest possible number of people, including those that cannot freely enjoy this privilege. Both the Fondazione Stelline and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation are pleased to announce that this exhibition will partner with the Prison of Milan to work with inmates on numerous components of the exhibition process, from the preparation of the exhibition to the attendance at artistic events and stage plays.

Concurrent with this exhibition, from October 2 to December 1, 2013, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation has collaborated with the Accademia di Brera to bring Milan an exhibition of Josef Albers’s teaching methods and students’ work, Learning to See: Josef Albers as a Teacher, from the Bauhaus to Yale.

This additional exhibition will reveal the vibrancy and extraordinary impact of Albers’s groundbreaking pedagogical methods and will feature works spanning four decades of his teaching career.

For Albers, the origin of art was “the discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect.” The heightened visual attentiveness that Albers’s work creates in the visitor is the perfect tool for handling the contemporary cacophony of distractions that surrounds us.

Josef Albers was born on March 19, 1888, in Bottrop, Westphalia. He enrolled in the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1920. In 1923, Albers was appointed instructor of the Preliminary Course.

In 1933, Albers immigrated with his wife, Anni Albers, to the United States, where he created an art department at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

In 1950, Albers started his “Homage to the Square” series of paintings and in the same year he accepted the appointment as Chair of the Department of Design at Yale University.

In 1963, Yale University Press published Albers’s Interaction of Color, demonstrating the principles of Albers’s exploration of the mutability and relativity of color and based on his renowned teaching of color.

In 1971, Josef Albers was the first living artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Fondazione Stelline
Corso Magenta 61
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–8pm