In John Urbain’s Lavender Night, earth, sky, and light are abstracted and articulated through paper and paint in a way that ignites both the visual and tactile senses. This late work is a continuation of the influential teaching of Black Mountain College instructor Josef Albers. After studying under Albers between 1946 and 1947, Urbain became a longtime devotee to Alber’s matière studies, an approach to artmaking centered on working in close contact with everyday materials like leaves, paper, and cardboard. These studies encouraged students to explore the creative possibilities of simple materials and to see the world in new ways.
John Urbain, Lavender Night, 1979, acrylic and mixed media on board, 14 7⁄8 × 15 inches. Black Mountain College Collection, gift of Lorna Blaine Halper, 2007.27.05.29. © Estate of John Urbain.