Friday, March 18, 2005
Homage to the Square
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1959
In 1959, Josef Albers created a series of fairly boring paintings entitled 'Homage to the Square'. These aren't particularly satisfying to look at, and they aren't particularly tricky to create. I wouldn't buy these paintings except as an investment.

That said, I think Albers hit the Modern zeitgeist right on the nose (and when I say Modern, I don't mean modern as in contemporary, I mean Modern as in early 20th century to the early 1960s, sometimes edging into the 70s).


This is what Modernism is all about. It is one massive homage to the square. Painting and sculpture are not all literally squares, but often are. To be a Modern painting is to care mainly about shape, color, and it doesn't hurt to be really, really flat.

Frank Stella and Jasper Johns are the giants of Modern Art, and it's all because of that square. Robert Rauschenberg got a lot of attention for painting canvases in all white (The "white paintings" contain no image at all. They are said to be "so exceptionally blank and reflective that their surfaces respond and change in sympathy with the ambient conditions in which they are shown". Hmmm... sounds like a white square to me).

Donald Judd, Concrete, 1975
Minimalist sculpture generally contains a lot of repeated squares. This is quintessentially Modern. Donald Judd is my favorite minimalist (although I'd be hard pressed to even name another minimalist), and he's almost all squares, almost all day.


But, where the square really comes into play, where you actually see almost nothing but square is in architecture. Go onto any college campus, any downtown, you'll know which buildings are built after 1950 and before 1975 because it's all straight, perpendicular lines.

To be post-modern is to add columns, circles, arches, and something, anything, besides a square.
posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

Learn more about me



My Antonia
by Willa Cather

June

Sarah's Quilt
by Nancy Turner

May

Maus
by Art Spiegelman


Housekeeping
by Marilynne Robinson

April

These Is My Words
by Nancy Turner


The Myth of You and Me
by Leah Stewart

March

Inconceivable
by Ben Elton


Songbook
by Nick Hornby


Follies
by Ann Beattie


Hungry Planet

February

About a Boy
by Nick Hornby


High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby


Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli

January

Revolutionary Road
by Richard Yates


Morality for Beautiful Girls
by Alexander McCall Smith


A Long Way Down
by Nick Hornby


How to be Good
by Nick Hornby


Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis

December
Click here for a free Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon

Good Faith
The Know-It-All
by A. J. Jacobs

Good Faith
Endurance
by Alfred Lansing

November
Good Faith
The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd

September

Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini


The Good Earth
by Pearl S. Buck

August

Freedom of Simplicity
by Richard Foster


Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

July

Celebration of Discipline
by Richard J. Foster

Peace Like A River
Peace Like A River
by Leif Enger

Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

Gap Creek
Gap Creek
by Robert Morgan

June
Life of Pi
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

My Name is Asher Lev
My Name is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok

A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

All New People
All New People
by Anne Lamott

May
Patrimony
Patrimony: A True Story
by Philip Roth

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters
by J. D. Salinger

Good Faith
Good Faith
by Jane Smiley

Cradle and Crucible
Cradle and Crucible History and Faith in the Middle East
by National Geographic Society

April
Saturday
Saturday
by Ian McEwan

Blue Shoe
Blue Shoe
by Anne LaMott

Emma
Emma
by Jane Austen

Operation Shylock
Operation Shylock
by Philip Roth

March
Jane Austen: A Life
Jane Austen: A Life
by Claire Tomalin

To See and See Again
To See and See Again
by Tara Bahrampour

Reading L0l1ta in Tehran
Reading L0l1ta in Tehran
by Azar Nafisi

February
A Thomas Jefferson Education
A Thomas Jefferson Education
by Oliver Van Demille

Still Alive
Still Alive
by Ruth Kluger

The Screwtape Letters
Not The Germans Alone
by Isaac Levendel

Still Alive
World War II: A Photographic History
by David Boyle

The Screwtape Letters
The Screwtape Letters
by C.S. Lewis

Persuasion
Persuasion
by Jane Austen

January
Climbing Parnassus
Climbing Parnassus
by Tracey Lee Simmons

With the Old Breed
With The Old Breed
by E. B. Sledge

All But My Life
All But My Life
by Gerda Weissmann Klein

We Die Alone
We Die Alone
by David Howarth