Sunny side up

Josef Albers was a Modernist master and a Bauhaus pioneer. He famously painted a lot of geometric abstracts in his homage to the square series. The current show of his work at David Zwirner in Grafton Street is dedicated to his particular obsession with yellow, orange and gold. Each canvas features diminishing soft-toned squares, overlapping and vanishing, all in the same configuration: big square, medium square, little square. It all shows how singular, driven, ordered and monomaniacal he was in his quest for pure geometry, pure colour, pure art. That’s what elevates this above what’s on the canvas – the passion and drive, the obsession at its heart. 

Some of the canvases are accompanied by several sketches on paper, and a brilliant little sheet of notes and paint-tests where he’s scribbled his thoughts on the various shades, including a big ‘NO!’ over some beige. Interestingly though there are also imperfections here, lines that wobble, paint that’s smeared. It's a reminder that true beauty isn't perfect.