Just home from an evening at the Hirshhorn Museum attending a "conversation" about Josef Albers with design great, Ivan Chermayeff, museum director, Richard Koshalek, and curator, Valerie Fletcher. Currently on exhibition until April 11th is Josef Albers: Innovation and Inspiration which includes close to sixty works that spans his long career in visual art and design.
This is the beginning of semester break so this event marks the kick-off! I have not seen the exhibit yet, or the exhibition, Colorforms. I could not pass up this opportunity to see and hear Ivan Chermayeff talk about his former teacher, who was head of the design department at Yale University
My notes in the darkened room are not entirely reliable so I will not use quotation marks. He said that Albers was concerned with magic and opening your eyes. If 90% of how humans learned was through their eyes, hence they need to see well in order to understand the world. He did not really teach theory so much as observation. He also sought to open the eyes of others to emotional content.
Albers allowed all types of students into his studio. His classes were open-ended and enjoyable creative sessions. He related his work to a larger context and cautioned that things are not always what they seem, so look and think. Students should not be easily satisfied and should be willing to reject their own work in order to reach a more satisfactory outcome. Perhaps the most heartening bit of information was that he felt that teachers are only justified in leading students if they themselves are students. Amen.