"The Art of Squash," program for 1985 Squash Championships of U.S.S.R.A., New Haven, CT
The Drawings of Josef Albers.
Shortly after Josef Albers's death in 1976, a scarcely known and surprising segment of his work was discovered: the representational drawings he made before going to the Bauhaus in 1920. These early works self-por-traits, portraits of friends and relatives, views of houses and public buildings in his native Westphalia, sketches of animals, travel scenes, nudes, caricatures of his students reveal a playful and informal side of Albers's character, as well as the roots of his fascination with the interplay of two- and three-dimensional space. Presented in conjunction with some of his later abstract drawings, which are characterized by the familiar geometry of his work from the Bauhaus on, they round out our sense of the complex but consistent themes that shaped his evolution as a pioneer painter, teacher, and color theorist.
Nicholas Fox Weber, who knew Albers well during the last years of the artist's life, introduces the selection of 142 drawings with an illustrated essay that weaves detailed information and observations about the works with insights into Albers's life and the development of his visual thinking. In the absence of a published biography or memoir, Weber's text is a welcome exploration of largely unrecognized aspects of the artist's work and personality.
Drawing on Albers's own statements, personal anecdotes, and life history, he gives us a refreshing and informed sense of this masterful figure of twentieth-century art.
The drawings are handsomely reproduced in two or four colors and are accompanied by a detailed catalogue. The book also includes a wide range of documentary and comparative illustrations.
Nicholas Fox Weber has written and lectured on various aspects of twentieth-century art.
Leland Bell is one of America’s finest contemporary painters, an artist passionately committed to addressing and exploring the challenges of twentieth-century representational painting. He is also Bell the teacher, the polemicist, the sometimes outspoken critic of the establishment, and the champion of neglected French painters.
A highly personal and engaging portrait, Leland Bell traces the development of the artist’s work, including the influences of other artists upon it. In extensive quotations throughout the text, Bell talks about his particular notion of tradition in art – the qualities that link artists as diverse as Giotto, Brueghel, Chardin and Gris, pointing to their similarities far more than their differences. The qualities he admires in the work of these masters illuminate his aspirations for his own art, and indicate an awareness of and insights into art history on the part of a dedicated artist.
Bell’s working methods are also discussed, and author Nicholas Fox Weber elucidates the many stages through which each of the paintings evolves. The book reproduces the finest of these robust, vigorous works, 48 of them in full color.
Included are early abstractions, portraits and self-portraits, still lifes, and figure studies. Simple and well-defined themes, they nevertheless evoke deep engagement on the part of the viewer, assisted by the author’s detailed analysis of their original style and forceful imagery. These paintings demonstrate too the integrity and disregard of fashion that Leland Bell’s art has come to represent.