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Masterworks from Budapest. From the Renaissance to the Avant-Garde

From 18 February to 28 May 2017

Lucas Cranach, the Elder
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1526-1530
Oil on panel. 88.4 x 58.3 cm
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts
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Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Josef Albers
Structural Constellation. Alpha
Incised vinyl
49 x 65.5 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 449 (1977.43)

More information about this work

Structural Constellation. Alpha, executed in 1954, belongs to a series of drawings and engravings which Albers began in 1950 and continued to work on for several years, and which embody his experiments on visual ambiguity. His chief ambition as a teacher, first at the Bauhaus and later at Black Mountain College and Yale University, was to train his students to open their eyes. The central idea of this body of works appears to stem from this principle; indeed, representation, on account of its special configuration, becomes an irrational and illusory visual image as it shows forms that contradict geometry itself and could never exist in three dimensions in real life. The artist seeks to explain that even if the form depicted is unique, its geometry is variable and a single image holds two or several different visions, anticipating Op Art.

In the present work belonging to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Albers explores right angles and parallel lines and requires the viewer to make a special effort to attempt, albeit unsuccessfully, a rational understanding of the geometrical shape. The simplicity of the structure and the painstaking execution of the drawing, which is engraved on vinyl, and the absence of colour, give the image a precise and impersonal appearance that further heightens the illogical appearance of the figure.

Paloma Alarcó

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