"A Beautiful Confluence: Anni and Josef Albers and the Latin American World" opens at MUDEC

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"A Beautiful Confluence: Anni and Josef Albers and the Latin American World" opens at MUDEC
Unknown. Panel fragment © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

MILAN.- A Beautiful Confluence: Anni and Josef Albers and the Latin American World presents the work of two of the most influential artists of the twentieth century in tandem with the pre-Columbian objects that informed their output from 1934 and throughout the remainder of their careers. An inaugural exhibition at MUDEC, Milan’s new museum for culture, A Beautiful Confluence features over 150 extraordinary artefacts amassed by the Alberses over three decades, together with their own paintings, textiles, drawings and lithographs. The influence of the Latin American world on their work is also revealed through a series of previously unseen photographs and photo-collages of their trips - one of the greatest highlights in the show.

Anni and Josef Albers first discovered their deep affinity with Latin American culture while still living in Berlin, but it wasn’t until they emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1933, that proximity would allow them to experience it first-hand. Between 1934 and 1967, they travelled south of the border fourteen times, visiting Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Chile. These journeys reinforced the already strong connection they felt they shared with the anonymous artisans who lived centuries before. The Bauhaus extolled the virtues of simplified forms, functionality and rationality and these were qualities that the Alberses perceived in the spatial order of pre-Columbian art and architecture.

Josef Albers was already using subtle variations as a way of revisiting the same subject matter in his paintings, but it was only when he began to collect the almost identical Chupícuaro figurines – he acquired 283 in total – that he put aside any reservations toward repetition in art and subsequently started his most iconic series, Homages to the Square, in 1950. Vibrant examples testifying the influence of the Latin American world on their work include Anni’s watercolour Study for Camino Real (1967), which evokes Maya and Inca geometry, as well as her Wall paintings whose motif is inspired by photographs taken by Josef in Cusco, Peru. Also on display are examples of Josef’s Variant or Adobe paintings, their composition based on the buildings in Mexico, and To Mitla from 1940 echoing the brilliant reds of the Palace of the Columns at Mitla in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The exhibition was created especially for MUDEC and curated by Nicholas Fox Weber, Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

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