Study for Homage to the Square: "High Spring" (work of art)
Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This painting is part of the artist’s Homage to the Square series. The series includes more than 1,000 paintings of nested squares that explore how different colors interact with one other. Based on the colors Albers used, his squares appear to move toward or away from the viewer.
- Albers kept careful notes about the paint colors he used in each painting. He often wrote these notes on the backs of his paintings.
- The artist was a color theorist who wrote a bestselling book about color and how to teach color theory.
- Albers taught art for 35 years. In 1933 he became the first art teacher at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
Josef Albers created this painting as part of his Homage to the Square series. The series explores human perceptions of color and how different colors or hues interact with one another. Homage to the Square includes over 1,000 paintings of squares that appear to expand and recede. The simple shapes allow the colors to be the focus of the painting.
“Every perception of colour is an illusion…we do not see colors as they really are. In our perception they alter one another.” -Josef Albers
His approach to painting was careful and mathematical. Albers applied paints directly from the tube using a palette knife, and he wrote the names of the colors he used on the backs of his canvases. His “optical illusion” paintings helped influence the optical, or op art, movement. Op artists used geometric shapes, abstract patterns, and contrasting colors to create artworks that trick the eye.
Albers was an influential artist and art teacher. He taught at the Bauhaus, a famous design school in Germany, until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then sought refuge in the United States and was hired as the first art teacher at Black Mountain College. This liberal arts school near Asheville, North Carolina, emphasized art as an essential part of learning. In 1963 Albers wrote a book titled Interaction of Color. It is still a bestseller that is used in teaching visual arts today.
tags: order, part/whole, perception, problem solving, variation, shapes, math, NC art, NC artist, North Carolina
Resources for Teachers:
- Explore a lesson plan for creating color collages.
- Review an enrichment activity about Black Mountain College, an art school in North Carolina where Josef Albers taught from 1933 until 1949.
- View other paintings by Josef Albers.
Resources for Students:
- Explore optical illusions to learn how humans see color.
- Watch a video to learn how to create Albers-inspired artwork.
- Play a game to learn about color theory.
- Play a game to test your understanding of color theory.