Colour and collusion
“We do not see colours as they really are. In our perception they alter one another.”
German-born American artist, printmaker and educator
Back in March when I read it was Josef Albers’ birthday, it sparked a idea.
I remembered the many colour studies and paintings by the famous artist/teacher who “revolutionized visual culture and the art of seeing”.
His works were no more than simple blocks of colour juxtaposed against one another.
But they are quite interesting to look at!The combinations are wonderfully varied — playful, sweet, bold, serene, sombre, trippy…
They are technical experiments but they are also abstract, minimalist modern art.
Albers’ ideas were captured in his book Interaction of Color (1963, Yale University), which quickly became a standard reference for art and design students.
His point: Colour is relative. The perception of a colour is influenced by those surrounding it.
Let’s make a book!
To make a book, I had to first decide which image to use as a reference.
Albers had a famous series called “Homage to the Square”.I looked at the many iterations, and thought the blue and yellow one was good — not too sweet, bright and cheery. Just like a square sun on a clear day. This is the same one that Uniqlo USA reproduced under its Museum of Moden Art (MoMA) Special Edition in 2015. And in what format?
It can only be a square accordion book — simple, with repetitive panels.
Finding the right paper with right shade was important.
Fortunately for us here in Singapore, there is Fancy Paper, the specialist paper shop across from National Library on North Bridge Road.
I decided that both covers should be the same — a mirror image.
For the accordian folds, the colour will go from the blue to yellow before reverting to blue.
I folded seven long pieces of paper, which are then joined into one long strip.
Colour is the art
Josef Albers is about the perception and play of colours.
This exercise took a classic Albers study and gave it a third, expandable, dimension.
Should I make one more?
The legacies of Albers and his wife Anni (1899-1994), an accomplished fibre artist, are today represented by The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a non-profit art education foundation founded by Albers in 1971 near New Haven, Connecticut, USA.Albers’ Interaction of Color was released as an iPad app in conjunction with the book’s 50th anniversary in 2013.
“Easy to know that diamonds are precious. Good to learn that rubies have depth. But more to see that pebbles are miraculous.” — Josef Albers
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