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José Francisco Yvars

Josef Albers: kaleidoscope. Colour enigmas URL:

Josef Albers was trained at the Bauhaus by conviction and discipline: his work and his personality represent an awkward combination of brilliant student transformed into magnetic professor who defined the active and participative didactics of the new German pedagogy, in the time of alert over Weimar and Berlin. Whether we like it or not, the incisive tradition of the new transformed the European artistic sensibility in the tragic period between wars. Migrant in the United States of America, Josef Albers focused in the demanding analysis of the virtual universe of color, but from an empirical point of view: color does not exist, it really fluctuates between the pigment and the tonal spectrum, always sensible to interventions, to the mediation of the context. This was probably the greatest analytic heritage of Albers for the contemporary aesthetics: the comprehension of color as a consequence of the interaction between primary colors in dynamic coordinates of unpredictable chromatic associations. In 1950 he begins to teach and direct practical workshops  within the courses of the mythical Black Mountain of North Carolina based on a rigorous empirical basis, as pointed out in The Square, which quickly spread like a sequence of color planes, inscribed or superimposed, in which the spaces of interference that define them as autonomous aesthetic qualities, challenge us.

Maybe the process of minimalism is an artistic variation, publicized early, and more of a trigger of Albers' chromatic research in those years, if we get to understand the cardinal axiom of the artist: art is painting plus experimentation. An idealistic project from any perspective. Interaction of Color is still now the contagious manifest of Josef Albers since its proclamation in Yale in 1963 -he taught there until 1959, but continued with his conference cycles-. Maybe within the plastic trail of Kandinsky and over the basis of the impenetrable chromatic normative of Klee, also a heterodox teacher from Bauhaus. Nevertheless, in the research of Albers the lessons of Kandinsky and Klee point out to a controversial conclusion that makes it actual: a certain simple chromatic combination -primary colors, secondary, tertiary, in an analogical sequence defined by the essential figurative square-. But curiously, it has a certain and controversial emotional sense. Here lies in persistent enigma of the powerful influence of the fundamental notions of Albers, always antagonistic in relation to the North American expressionism and to the paintings of plastic an radical gestures that had starred in the North American artistic culture, from New York to the West Coast, along the decade of the 1960's.

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