Who is Joseph Albers?

Monday, August 16, 2010

From the Museum blog archives: August 2010

Joseph Albers and SewellSillman: Explored through two “Works of the Week” from our Permanent Collection

Exhibition on view: August 9th through August 22, 2010


From left: Josef Albers, Formulation: Articulation Folio II, Folder 12, 1972, serigraph on paper, 15 x 40 inches. Gift of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. 1997.01.05.65L; Josef Albers, Formulation: Articulation Folio II, Folder 18, 1972, serigraph on paper, 15 x 40 inches. Gift of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 1997.01.05.65R.

Josef Albers and Sewell Sillman are intimately tied in terms of the artistic lives they led and the work they produced. When Sillman arrived at Black Mountain College, Albers was head of the art department. Initially interested in architecture, Sillman quickly displayed a passion for art under the tutelage of Albers. Sillman and Albers both shared a passion for color studies and were both instrumental in the formulation of Color Theory. Sillman eventually taught many of the courses that he took under Albers.

Sillman also continued to work with Albers through his print publishing firm, Ives-Sillman, founded with fellow Yale professor and graphic designer Norman Ives. Sillman used the knowledge he gained from years of color studies to successfully create color reproductions of fine art works. By focusing on screenprinting as a new medium for reproductions, these two were able to control the quality of their color prints, allowing them to introduce the fine art portfolio book to the United States. Their first and most frequent client was Josef Albers, who entrusted them with the production of two instrumental portfolios: Interaction of Color, a book based on Albers’ lessons in color theory, and Formulation: Articulation, a retrospective reworking of some of Albers’ greatest artistic achievements.

These two prints, now on display in the Museum’s exhibition Sewell Sillman: Pushing Limits, are included in Albers’ deluxe double portfolio Formulation: Articulation. Sillman recalled that the purpose of this portfolio was to allow Josef Albers the opportunity to take “every seminal idea that he’s ever had and to redevelop it.” Sillman was a key collaborator in creating this portfolio, for he helped Albers review his past work and select compositions to reproduce as screenprints.

All of the works in the Museum’s Collection from Albers’ portfolio, Formulation: Articulation, are now up on the Permanent Collection Archive.

Come in to see Sewell Sillman: Pushing Limits, which traverses the breadth of Sillman’s career as a student, a businessman, a teacher, a collaborator, an artist and a friend.