Abstraction Squared

Jan 23, 2016 - Jul 10, 2016
Lilien Gallery

In 1950, Josef Albers, America’s most influential color theorist, began painting his celebrated series Homage to the Square. One of the legendary teachers of the twentieth century, Albers had a tremendous influence on generations of students at Black Mountain College, where he taught when he first arrived in the United States from the Bauhaus in 1933, and at Yale, where he finished his teaching career in 1958. This exhibition drawn mostly from the Zimmerli’s collection of American art demonstrates the transformative qualities of geometry and color—and presents a tongue-in-cheek homage to Josef Albers and the square. 

The subtle, vivid, and even hallucinatory aspects of the works on view are facilitated by the artist’s choice of line, color, material, and use of repetition. Marietta Hoferer’s 4 Lines is a study in minimalism. Moving in front of it allows light to activate the surface causing the lines of white tape on white paper to appear and fade from view. Alternatively, Reginald Neal’s Square of Two and Richard Anuszkiewicz’s paintings rely on color relationships to impart a sense of movement. Both illusion and vibration are determined by the placement of bold, often complementary, colors. Playfully enticing engagement, the kinetic qualities of these works are activated by the gaze of the viewer, and in John Goodyear’s example, through a gentle touch that sends the foregrounded wooden square in motion. Of the five artists represented here, only Anuszkiewicz was a student of Albers, but his profound influence continues to cast a long shadow over contemporary geometric abstraction.

Organized by Betty Jarvis, Graduate Curatorial Assistant and MA Candidate in Art History, Rutgers University, and Donna Gustafson, Curator of American Art and Mellon Director for Academic Programs

Richard Joseph Anuszkiewicz
Squaring the Red, 1965
Acrylic on Masonite
Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers
Gift of the artist
Art © Richard Anuszkiewicz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo Victor Pustai