Josef Albers: Homage to the Square

9 October - 29 October 2008

Hermès and Singapore Tyler Print Institute are proud to present, Josef Albers Homage to the Square , an exhibition of 30 original prints from the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) Tyler Collection. The prints on display highlight the breakthrough collaboration between Josef Albers and the master printer, Kenneth E. Tyler that paved the way for innovative print-making. Held together with the launch of Hermès’s first limited editions on silk, Hommage au Carré , are six faithful reproductions from Albers’s best known series, Homage to the Square . Both the prints on paper and on silk display the masterful technique of impeccable alignment and registration of colour that was one of the artist’s most deeply cherished objectives.

Albers began his study of art in 1908, and first experimented with printmaking in 1915. He was an artist and an educator best known for his theories of colour perception and his commitment to technology. Albers’s work with pure colour started at the Bauhaus with his glass paintings of the 1920’s. He saw colour as a manifestation of light and wanted to translate the principle of optics to paintings. His attempts to relate pure colours, one to another, colour that was free from extraneous material or subject matter, are seen in his Homage to the Square series begun in 1949. The Homage series are an endless exploration of the effects of colour through squares in various tonal themes and combinations. The squares’ perfectly harmonious form is manmade, not representative of anything in nature. It is a pure form, a “non-subject”, so that one comes to it with no preconceived notions or emotions. The focus is entirely on the possibilities of the controlled and premeditated harmony of colours.

Hermès’s first limited editions on silk are based on Albers’s series, Homage to the Square; one of the most remarkable abstract painting undertakings of the 20th century. Hermès’s latest activity of publishing artists’ work on silk is a true testament not only to its savoir-faire of silk printing, but also to its dream of building bridges between the world of creativity and invention with the world of art. Among the three series, Day and Night (1963), Midnight and Noon (1964) and Gray Instrumentation (1974), the most notable are the screen-prints, Gray Instrumentation. All the inks are printed directly onto the white of the paper without overlap to achieve subtle hues and luminosity. Such an exercise requires a perfect system of registration in screen-printing and perfect colour matching. It also marks a time when printers began to assume a more complex and catalytic role in printmaking. The visionary presentation between STPI and Hermès pays homage to the Bauhaus pioneer, Albers, who provided a new chapter for the second half of contemporary 20th century art.