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Variant: Violet, Red Against Blue


  • Medium

    Oil on paper on board

  • Dimensions

    Frame (wood with silver and plexi case): 18 3/4 x 25 1/4 x 1 7/8 in. (47.63 x 64.14 x 4.76 cm)
    17 1/4 x 23 3/4 in. (43.82 x 60.33 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Partial and promised gift from the Collection of Laura-Lee and Robert Woods

  • Accession number


  • Object label

    Josef Albers focused on the how rather than the what of seeing. In his Variant series, created from 1947 to 1955, an adobe house he had seen in Mexico provided the abstract geometric motif that allowed for his exploration of color. Albers applied each color in a single coat of paint with a palette knife, directly from the tube. He arranged the colors to explore various relations of proportion and placement, opacity and transparency, and projective and recessive depth. In demonstrating how colors can seem to change as they influence each other, Albers hoped to sensitize viewers to the ambiguities of perception. He devised a curriculum for Black Mountain College based on a series of preliminary courses in drawing, color, and design. His classroom was an experimental laboratory in which students tested the physical properties and visual appearances of materials like cardboard, wire, and eggshells. Albers’s pedagogy broke students’ routine perceptual habits in an effort to train them to understand the complexities of perception.

    Albers taught at Black Mountain College from 1933 to 1949.