Boxerwood Education Association (BEA) is sponsoring an exhibition of work by abstract artist Josef Albers from October 8 through November 5 in the Staniar Gallery at Washington and Lee University. Formulation : Articulation is a suite of 127 silkscreen prints containing images that display the optical possibilities of color and design.
Dr. Elliott King, Professor of Art History at W&L, will present an exhibit lecture in the Concert Hall at Wilson Hall on October 22 at 5:30 PM, with a catered reception to follow. The Albers collection will be studied by students in the Art Department while it is on exhibit in the Staniar Gallery, and may be viewed by the public during gallery hours.
Josef Albers (1888 -1976) was a painter, poet, sculpture, art theorist and educator who introduced a generation of American artists to European modernist concepts. He taught at Bauhaus in German, Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and Yale University in Connecticut. Among his most successful students were Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Eva Hesse, and John Chamberlain. Through his experimentation with color and shape, Albers produced an alternative to abstract expressionism, inspiring the geometric abstraction, color field painting and op art movements.
“Formulation: Articulation” is a collection of 127 silkscreens printed on 66 plates containing one, two, or four images, along with annotations by the artist. It took Albers, while in his eighties, two years of concentrated work to create the prints for the suite. The collection is not a retrospective of past works, although the images represent a compilation of over four decades of the artist’s research, including his iconic Homage to the Square series.
Since its release in 1972, the complete suite has been rarely shown in its entirety, with most museums and galleries only displaying selected works from the suite. Staniar Gallery Director Clover Archer affirms that “Exhibition of the complete suite will give our art students a unique opportunity to study how Albers’ color, perception and abstraction have influenced modern art.”
Sponsorship of the exhibition by Boxerwood, a local nature center with an environmental education mission, might raise some eyebrows, but Board member Joe Dinardo, who has loaned the Albers suite, sees an explicit connection.
“Art has been part of Boxerwood tradition from the beginning,” notes Dinardo, “as Dr. Robert Munger acquired sculpture by local artists for what was then his private garden.” Since becoming an education nonprofit, Boxerwood has opened the woodland garden to the public and continues to offer it as a venue to inspire creativity as expressed through the arts. Dinardo maintains that “creativity comes from awareness of our surroundings, the same awareness that inspires us to care for our surroundings, especially the natural world. This year, as Boxerwood celebrate our 15th year as a community nature center, one of our goals is to step up that aspect of our mission – merging creativity and art with the environment.”
The Albers suite belongs to the private collection of Dinardo and his wife, Joan. Dinardo, a retired toxicologist, now divides his time between various nonprofit endeavors, including revitalizing the arts at Boxerwood. He will be helping to stage Boxerwood’s Earth Day Art Festival this April 19, and is developing plans to establish a sculpture garden on the nature center’s 15 acre campus over the next five years.
Information about the Boxerwood Education Association and Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden is available at www.boxerwood.org and www.facebook.com/pages/Boxerwood-Nature-Center-Woodland-Garden.
Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.
Formulation : Articulation (Portfolio 2, Folder 3), 1972, Silkscreen print (Image credit: Special Collections & Archives, Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University)