A Conversation between Josef & Jasper
Screenprint on Somerset satin (unframed
I’m not suggesting that Josef Albers and Jasper Johns had any real life connection- I can’t even be sure if they ever crossed paths, I mean art worlds are small but America is big. Josef did teach Robert Rauschenberg, and Rauschenberg had an intimate relationship with Johns. So is it not so hard to believe that there may have been somewhere between studio and pillow talk a conversation between Robert and Jasper that Josef came into. The two young artists laughing at Josef and his Bauhaus moves, as they took over the world with their Neo Dada
Josef with his artwork as lessons; Homage to the Square, Jasper with his contradictions and no meanings (how could a flag or target have no meaning?)
You might consider that these two are poles apart. Josef was strict in his approach, planned and purposeful, it was about the relationship of colour. The square was the vehicle to show us the function and perception of colour illustrating the optical and psychological effects that colour alone produces. The square held no symbolic meaning, these were glorious lessons of colour and spatial relationships, painted in a very particular manner, colours touched they never overlapped.
Jasper is full of symbols but seemingly little meaning – the art was for itself, the critical discourse attached itself in hindsight in part driven by the symbols used. Did it matter that it was a flag or a target, the art simply existed - you finish it off.
But I will argue there is a distinct connection between the two artists work. The formulation of the work and the dissolution of the overlays of meaning so there is an essence of clarity. The seductiveness of the surfaces and the calmness in the repetition of both artists work is supported by the skill in which their work is made.
I could image if the two ever did met Jasper would ask “Hey Josef why so square?” and Josef would reply - “Is this it, can you not see why?”
Paula Mcloughlin 2015