"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, August 13, 2021

Josef Albers

This 1916 lithographic self-portrait entitled “Josef Albers (Left Profile)” hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Created early in his career, this bold self-portrait lithograph by Josef Albers reflects his interest in the new artistic trends of his day, particularly Expressionism and Cubism. This work not only suggests the young artist's mastery of recent modern art but also highlights his focus on the future and his capacity to innovate. Indeed, for Albers, self-portraiture provided critical terrain for artistic experimentation, and this print serves more as an exercise in the development of form than it does as a psychological study. The intensity of the subject's expression, however, is nonetheless striking, and one can read in this fragmented self-representation something of the strains of World War l. Living in Germany when he made this work, Albers surely observed the bandaged faces and mutilated bodies of returning veterans.

To see more typical work by Albers, check out his Homages to the Square at the Albers Foundation.

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