THREE INTERVIEWS OF JOSEF ALBERS
by Jean Charlot
Art to me is visual formulation of our reaction to the world, the universe, to life.
The content of my paintings is relatedness, as a symbol of order opposing negation and defeatism. Consequently I prefer to promote hope instead of fear and despair. Because I believe that art––a parallel to life even on a critical level—is affirmation of life.
In my paintings I adhere to what in other arts is considered a matter of course. Namely, that performance is prepared by rehearsal, that exercises precede recital, or plans, executionÉ And it was a rule with the old masters of painting.
Why are we afraid that thinking and planning—necessary to all human activities—will spoil painting? The saying that the freshness of the first sketch cannot be repeated—is admitting impotence.
There is no extraordinary without the ordinary, and the root of both is order.
When color acts, we never can tell what color it is.
The painter in his painting––
presents a viewpoint (interpretation)
or standpoint (presentation)
speaks via means (as musical instrument)
or through means (as voice)
gives reflection (indirectly as through a mirror)
or direction (directly from within)
Art in its very nature is new in formulation, articulation, though constant in its task to reveal and to arouse emotion.
Tradition has lost its traditional meaning. It has changed from a moving force to an inactive attitude; from a role of facilitation to one of inhibition.
The past has led us to the present. Whether the past will be a help to us or a hindrance, depends on how we respect the present.
I am a Westphalian––from the Ruhr––and now 65.
Though I have destroyed more of my work than saved, it has been shown during the last fifteen years in more than 500 exhibitions here and abroad.
Here a few invitations for consideration:
THE ORIGIN OF ART:
Discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect
THE CONTENT OF ART:
Visual formulation of our reaction to life
THE MEASURE OF ART:
Ratio of effort to effect
THE AIM OF ART:
Revelation and evocation of vision
To me (so far)
art is to present
not to represent
though I know
Art is to present
not expression first.
Vision in art is to reveal
our insight––inner sight,
our seeing the world and life
is an unavoidable by-product
not a result of stylization,
not of forced individualism
but of virtue:
honesty and modesty.
 Published with the kind permission of the Josef and Anni Albers Collection. Edited by John Charlot.