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When I was asked to make a speech here I had some arguments against this wish because: for speaking we need at least the language so I must tell you that my friendship with the English language is not very close or complete.

On the other hand every language is in some ways a poor medium for the expression of artistic aims. This is one of the reasons why art is existent at all. Take for instance the word red. Even when you explain this red more precisely through other words, dark, light, deep, flat, active, substantial, loose, dense, transparent, opaque—still we will have different reds in our minds.

Only the pigment red, the color by itself, is able to get all the different imaginations into the same direction. But the psychic reactions are still different. We could find many examples of this kind telling us how inadequate the language is for the expression of taste, only one example more: try to describe the taste of sweet or sour—impossible to find the right word. For the first argument I told you, I mean my individualistic English, I beg your pardon for the mistakes I shall make.

And then: understand my psychic situation, my state of mind. I am speaking here in front of my own pictures. I feel the temptation to feel proud. I would like rather to speak about the pictures of another painter. Then at least I would have the possibility of saying something good—or if you like, something bad.

My talk here shall be an answer to the question: what is the matter with abstract art? This question gives the impression that abstract art must be something quite new or something quite unusual, but it only seems so. Let us observe a lady buying her hat, studying its form, seeking relationship to her face, eyes, mouth, dress—well, she is a judger of abstract forms. Every lady wearing a hat is dealing with abstract forms.

Ask a man who wears a necktie why he wears it—because he likes it. Why he likes the color and the combinations of colors, the lines and the proportions, the rhythm and so on—all qualities of an abstract kind.

You see every man with a necktie deals with an abstract form. What about rugs? Nobody would like to have a rug with the portraits of his family to tramp on, or a landscape, or naturalistic flowers. All rugs have ornaments. You see again everybody deals with abstract forms. Let us find comparisons in other arts, for instance, in music. Nobody expects that a composer, before composing his work, is going into the woods to listen to a roaring lion or a barking dog, or something nicer, a singing nightingale or blue jay.

Everybody thinks that it is all right that he composes out of his imagination, his material, the tones. And it is all right that no nature at all has had influence upon his work. Why should we painters not have the same right to combine, like the musician, our medium—form, colors, proportions and so on? You allow the architect to use forms without any representation. You allow the dancer to combine his movements to a composition without any sense of a thing or a situation, or to work only in a musical way.

Everybody who likes Fred Astaire is an admirer of abstract art, and he who wants to dance like him, wants to be an abstract artist. Well, I see you laughing or smiling so I have to state that you like this combination of acoustic mediums, an abstract part of poetry.

I conclude that you are lovers of abstract art, at least of abstract art in music or poetry, and so I have reason to finish my speech. Anyway it is clear abstract art is neither new nor unusual. But let us go further on: Somebody will tell me that he doesn't understand it. All right. That I take as an honest confession. But the first conclusion from this statement would be: then don't tell me that such things are wonderful or awful.

Now we could analyze the word understand. Does it mean an intellectual ability to explain a part of a picture—sometimes a gesture says more than that—but this would lead us too far off, take too much time. I imagine you will accept this, but probably your neighbor says something in opposition. Please tell him that an unmusical person can never prove the non-existence of music or the musical.

I want to give an example from my lessons: you drink wine for the first time. Please don't judge, but drink many wines, study them and probably then if you are looking for words to describe a wine you will see that you can't find them. But I have an explanation for this non-understanding and will give you an historical reason: the development of the last centuries, particularly the nineteenth, show a development of naturalism and realism materialism.

Art was overwhelmed by aims toward imitation. Earlier times were different. A picture tried to be more art than imitation. The nineteenth century shows the picture as a cut-out of nature. But if you study art history, the oldest art is the ornament, and powerful races kept this art.

In this country the Indians for thousands of years produced only abstract art. In all countries the folk art is more art than imitation, and the how is more important than the what. After the last generations with their emphasized imitative aims, we now feel a strong reaction and want in art again more art than nature, stories or sentiments.

We can show a development toward the pure arts. That means that we want to rediscover the artistic tasks of the old masters. Don't misunderstand me. I like portraits and landscape. I did them myself for many years. And I don't underestimate the study of nature as a foundation for art studies, the proof of this is in my art classes where we study the real objective representation. But art is still more. As life is more than nature, so is art more than life.

Because art is spirit—that means an essential seeing—instead of imitation we need translation. August, Let me begin with an experience which I had repeatedly after speeches I had given on teaching or teaching of art. After having spoken about my way of teaching, teachers came asking me if there were a book describing my method.

This summer I was asked to write a sample lesson for a prospective book containing lessons by so-called master teachers of art. As the publishers wrote, they wanted a typical lesson of mine. I have not written this sample lesson. I can imagine that such a book could be very instructive because it could show many different and, what would be particularly stimulating, contradictory approaches.

I knew an assistant art teacher who had to teach a class parallel to the class of his superior. Thus in the afternoon, he gave his course just as his master conducted it in the morning. Although his master was very successful, the assistant was not.

In spite of his applying the same procedure, in spite of his repeating the master word for word. This is to explain that teaching is primarily not a question of method and technique. It may also explain that my not contributing to that book was not a withholding of private educational secrets.

It is opposition to a dangerous belief that in teaching, imitation and repetition of others are sufficient; a belief which is just as disastrous in teaching art as in practicing art. In order to clarify the situation I should like to make first some general remarks on teaching, then to explain why art education, and how I try to do it and why.

Teaching is definitely more than giving information. Teaching should be education which means developing of the will and of the ability more than the producing of knowledge. To know more is less than the ability to do more. Simply knowing something or many things produces easily a kind of pride in which someone for instance enjoys heaping money for heaping's or money's sake.

But pride of possession is poverty as pride based on power, is fear; both are unproductive. Only dynamic possession is fertile, materially as well as spiritually.

Let us therefore consider knowledge not as a static possession or as a goal in itself, but as a means. In order to be less abstract: we—through teaching—may feed youth, and they may eat and enjoy our food, but its assimilation should receive our greater interest.

If we understand teaching as a kind of nourishing, the associations with the term digestion will suggest various methods of teaching. For example: cooking, which is preparing our meals to be served, should be an art of selection and combination. Normally, a meal should be nourishing, the food should taste good. Different constitutions need different diets. Mealtime is more eating time than talking time. And, to overfeed disturbs, wastes, and spoils.

Or, compare homemade food with manufactured foods. Canned food has less vitamins than fresh food; just as a mimeographed letter is less effective than a personal letter.

One can suffocate with knowledge, never with experience. We forget easily what we have heard or read, but we cannot forget what we have experienced. Wisdom is more a result of experience than of knowledge.

With hearing and reading must come seeing.


Josef Albers Interaccion Del Color a COLOR 1

His father, Lorenzo Albers, was variously a housepainter, carpenter, and handyman. His mother came from a family of blacksmiths. His childhood included practical training in engraving glass, plumbing, and wiring, giving Josef versitility and lifelong confidence in the handling and manipulation of diverse materials. From to he began his work as a printmaker at the Kunstgewerbschule in Essen, where he learnt stained-glass making with Dutch artist Johan Thorn Prikker.


Interaccion Color by Josef Albers

The classic text achieves its full, interactive potential in this stunning new application for iPad. The full app is free to download, and allows you to sample Chapter 10, including accompanying text, video commentary, two interactive plates, and the palette tool. This revolutionary new digital edition will transform the way color is taught and understood among teachers, students, designers, artists, and anyone interested in learning how to perceive and use color. Beyond groundbreaking. This is the example the world has been waiting for.


La Interaccion del Color



Josef Albers


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