“Not only is Color an indispensable element of painting, it is its Alpha and Omega...”
Winfred Gaul, 1960/65
Cutting Edge – Albers, Gaul, Knoebel
Galerie Ludorff in Düsseldorf is initiating a series of exhibitions which begin with the show "Cutting Edge”. Utilizing artist spaces as a format, the series of exhibitions is devoted to the differences and similarities of various artistic positions. The gallery presents three painters: Josef Albers, Winfred Gaul and Imi Knoebel, whose works mainly focus on the liberation of color.
“Cutting edge”, in this context, is to be understood in a two-fold sense. On the one hand, the term quite literally describes actual sharp edges and clear limitations – which, at first glance, is an appropriate general description of the compiled paintings presented here, and on the other hand it describes an innovative, state-of-the-art phenomenon.
All three artists have the stencil-like geometric shape in common, with hard edges and sharply delineated applications of color. The immediate effect of color phenomena on the viewer stands here in the foreground. However, the artistic intentions and working methods of the three artists from different generations are very different:
Josef Albers created one of the most consistent and strict image series in art history with his monumental series Homage to the Square. In his magnum opus of art theory, “Interaction of Color”, he expounded how our perception of color is determined by specifically diverging composition – and hence, that an absolute percipience of color is non-existent.
Knoebel does not follow color theory, but rather applies his color onto the image freely and in his very own combinations. Just like American painter Ellsworth Kelly, who in his multipart paintings assigned every color with its own picture carrier, and thus made them independent from compositions. In his aluminum pictures, Knoebel too applies every color to its own carrier and combines these in order to composite images of seductive charisma.
The interplay of color in works by Winfred Gaul, as in Tag und Nacht II (Day and Night II, 1966), Hommage au peintre inconnu (Homage to the Unknown Painter, 1971) or Piet Mondrian in Orange (1972/87), other than in Albers' work, do not induce an illusion of space, permeations or transparency. However, their field remains pure in the sense of American critic Clement Greenberg, occasionally using the method of shaped canvas.