As part of ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020, Christies
will present two major paintings by Josef Albers in Paris and London, both of which are being offered at auction for the first time. Representing the depth of the artists oeuvre and his vision as a constructive colourist Homage to the Square: Between 2 Scarlets (1962, estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000) will highlight the London session while Homage to the Square: Veiled (1961, estimate: 800,000-1,200,000) will star in the Paris session, being seen in public for the first time since 1974.
Ana Maria Celis, Head of Sale, ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century: Christies is delighted to present two rare paintings by Josef Albers as part of ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century. Josef Albers' exploration of colour and form defined him as one of the great abstract painters of the last century and his appeal is universal. Its fitting that his work will highlight not only the Paris session of our relay-format auction, but as our audience moves with us to London we witness another exceptional work by the artist. We look forward to a global response to the works as they are offered at auction for the first time.
Painted in 1962, the year before Josef Albers published his now-legendary treatise Interaction of Color, Homage to the Square: Between 2 Scarlets is an outstanding large-scale work rendered in one of the artists most important hues. Widely exhibited, it belongs to the second largest size category employed throughout the series and is one of only seven red works completed on this scale. Occupying his practice for over a quarter of a century, Albers Homages to the Square stand among the twentieth centurys most important investigations into the elusive properties of colour. His red paintings represent some of the finest expressions of his theories, with examples held in institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf. The colours mercurial qualities held particular fascination for the artist. If one says Red
and there are 50 people listening, he explained, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.
Spanning four feet in height and width, Homage to the Square: Veiled (1961) is a rare work created in the largest format ever used by Josef Albers, and from his iconic series of Homages to the Square paintings. Acquired in 1974 from the Parisian gallery Denise René, an important early champion of Op Art and Kinetic Art, it has been held in the same private collection for almost half a century. This will also mark the first time it has been seen in public since its purchase. The painting consists of four nested concentric squares. They are set gently towards the canvas lower edge, and phase from bright viridian at its centre to a border of burnt umber. The Veiled subtitle highlights an effect of transparency: the umber-green square adjoining the border creates the illusion of a sheer viridian film laid over the painting. The hues identities are made unstable, seeming to oscillate and glow in shifting tonal, focal and perspectival relation to one another. Such attention to the subtleties of chromatic interaction is the hallmark of Albers work, and the raison-dêtre of the Homages. A smaller 1958 Study for Homage to the Square: Veiled is held in the North Carolina Museum of Art, close to Black Mountain College, where Albers taught artists including Robert Rauschenberg during the late 1940s.