Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

These two works (BR67.2 and BR63.28) from Albers’s series Homage to the Square exemplify his idea of art as a type of research. For each, Albers used the same basic format of nested squares, rendered in different media and sizes, to test various color combinations. He considered the series, which he returned to throughout his career, as a means to examine the logic of color and perception. Albers compiled his theories in the 1963 book Interaction of Color, a pedagogical text that quickly became — and remains today — an essential resource for art and design students. A teacher at the Bauhaus, the influential German design school eventually closed by the Nazis, Albers left Germany in 1933, when he was invited to teach at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. He subsequently taught at Yale, Harvard, and Pratt, among other schools. For American artists, designers, and architects, Albers served as an essential link to the pre–World War II avant-garde and the legacies of the Bauhaus. His experiments with materiality, opticality, and color reverberated in 1960s American art, from the pulsating surfaces of post-painterly abstraction to the perceptual experiments of conceptual art.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Josef Albers, American (Bottrop, Germany 1888 - 1976 New Haven, Conn.)
Homage to the Square: Against Deep Blue
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Oil on Masonite
61 x 61 cm (24 x 24 in.)
framed: 62.5 x 62.4 x 3 cm (24 5/8 x 24 9/16 x 1 3/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: on recto, l.r.: A 55
  • inscription: verso, u.r., black felt tip, signed, in artist's hand: Homage to the Square: "Against Deep Blue" / Albers 1955
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Anonymous gift
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 16, repr.

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 90, ill.

Exhibition History

Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/15/1980 - 09/01/1980; Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980

19th- and 20th-Century Works on Paper from the Permanent Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 02/08/1982

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 08 Rotation 1), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 10/19/2008

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 09 Rotation 1), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/02/2009 - 10/12/2009

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 10 Rotation 1), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/10/2010 - 10/09/2010

Re-View: European and American Art Since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2011 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 1110 Mid-Century Abstraction II (Post-Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 07/14/2021

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

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