Josef Albers Untitled (Teopanzolco, Mexico), ca. 1936–39

Josef’s encounters with the ruins of Mexico deepened his interest in photography and advanced his experiments in abstract art. He took thousands of pictures on his travels, later combining many of these images to produce photocollages with grid-like compositions. This body of work illuminates the indelible impact Josef’s time in Mexico had on his larger practice. The heavily ornamented facades of pre-Columbian structures sparked new formal explorations, and the colors of the natural landscape and built environment informed the palette of his paintings, including his Variant/Adobe series (1946–66) and his Homages to the Square (1950–76).

This exhibition features six sites in Mexico that the artists most frequented, as evidenced by the number of photographs that Josef took at these locations and the paintings that bear their names. Even as he expressed veneration for pre-Columbian art, Josef maintained a commitment to abstraction—complicating the links between specific paintings and places. “In art, tradition is to create, not to revive,” he wrote. The works inspired by his decades of travel in Mexico reflect his deep affinities with ancient art while exemplifying a modernist ethic of rigorous experimentation in form, composition, and color theory.


Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

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