Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paintings I Like, pt. 71

From the top: Homage to the Square: Young, 1951-52, Homage to the Square: Frontal – Forward, 1970, Homage to the Square: Precinct, 1951, Homage to the Square: Dilated, 1969, Homage to the Square: Enfolding, 1965, Homage to the Square: On Near Sky, 1963, Homage to the Square: Frontal Backing, 1970, Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken, 1969, Homage to the Square: Green Promise, 1956.

I was at the Met this past weekend, and saw this marvelous group of Josef Albers' "Homage to the Square" paintings. They were so beautiful, so poetic, so varied.

I know that in the harsh light of much art theory of the last 40 years, these paintings are considered the height of academic art. But history's wheel is constantly turning, and those who would consider these paintings academic have not spent much time in the academy of late. From my little perch in academia, the discussions I hear are about identity, relational aesthetics and democratization, sustainability, mapping, performance, video, and, most surprisingly, institutional critique. Mastery of color and scale is discussed very little.

These pictures are not about color theory, they're about the belief that color can convey varied emotional content, and can do so in a more fundamental and profound way than text, narrative or representation ever could.