description of Study for Homage to the Square: In May by Josef Albers

This square oil painting on Masonite pressed fiberboard, approximately two feet wide by two feet tall, features four nested squares of different colors. At the heart of the painting, centered in the lower third of the composition, is a solid golden square. Successively larger squares surround it, creating a series of uniform frames. Moving from the smallest to the largest, the next square, or frame, is school bus yellow, followed by a square of light grey. The largest square is darker grey: the color of dry concrete. A thin, off-white border marks the edge of the painting, and could be considered a fifth square. While each square is distinct and rendered with hard edges, the colors involved are somewhat ambiguous, due to the influence that the adjacent colors have on one another. Their placement, while clearly delineated each within the other, is also ambiguous: diminishing squares can give the appearance of either advancing or receding, as the two yellow and gold squares in the center can seem to pop out towards us while the two gray squares that surround them recede; on the other hand, the dark golden central square can also be construed as if seen through a tunnel, in the distance. This square oil painting on Masonite pressed fiberboard, approximately two feet wide by two feet tall, features four nested squares of different colors. At the heart of the painting, centered in the lower third of the composition, is a solid golden square. Successively larger squares surround it, creating a series of uniform frames. Moving from the smallest to the largest, the next square, or frame, is school bus yellow, followed by a square of light grey. The largest square is darker grey: the color of dry concrete. A thin, off-white border marks the edge of the painting, and could be considered a fifth square. While each square is distinct and rendered with hard edges, the colors involved are somewhat ambiguous, due to the influence that the adjacent colors have on one another. Their placement, while clearly delineated each within the other, is also ambiguous: diminishing squares can give the appearance of either advancing or receding, as the two yellow and gold squares in the center can seem to pop out towards us while the two gray squares that surround them recede; on the other hand, the dark golden central square can also be construed as if seen through a tunnel, in the distance.

Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square: In May, 1960
Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square: In May, 1960; oil on Masonite, 23 7/8 in. x 24 in. (60.64 cm x 60.96 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Janss; © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square: In May, 1960

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Study for Homage to the Square: In May
Artist name
Josef Albers
Date created
1960
Classification
painting
Medium
oil on Masonite
Dimensions
23 7/8 in. x 24 in. (60.64 cm x 60.96 cm)
Date acquired
1978
Credit
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Janss
Copyright
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/78.210
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

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