"The painter chooses to articulate with or in colour. Some painters consider colour an accompaniment of, and therefore subordinate to form or other pictorial content. To others, and today again, in an increasing number, colour is the structural means of their pictorial idiom. Here colour becomes autonomic. My paintings are presentative in the latter direction. I am interested particularly in the psychic effects- esthetic experience cause by the interaction of colours." -Joseph Albers, 1952
Josef Albers is best known for a group of works that occupied him for the last 25 years of his life that he called Homage to the Square. He created over 1000 of them starting in 1950 when he was 62 years old. In the course of his long career, Albers worked on stained and collaged glass works, furniture design, typography, printmaking, photography and painting.
Albers trained in stained glass, drawing and painting in Essen and Munich, before enrolling at the Bauhaus in 1920. After his studies, he joined their faculty, where he taught the preliminary design course and a range of design studies from typography to furniture making. After it closed, he moved to the United States to teach at the Black Mountain College. In the 1950s, he began the Homage to the Square series and was appointed chairman of Department of Design at Yale University. He published the Interaction of Color in 1963, where he set out the importance of context in colour relationships.
Albers felt the austere square was the best, neutral, geometric format to explore colour relationships. As in Homage to the Square: Stepped Foliage ,1963, he applied the colour in flat evenly painted and somewhat subdued hues. His work and his teaching were highly influential for other geometric abstract and later op artists.