Josef Albers in Mexico travels to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where its debut presentation met with critical acclaim. The exhibition features photographs, photo collages, canvases, and works on paper relating to Josef Albers's many visits to Mexico—a place that struck him, as he later wrote to his former Bauhaus colleague Vasily Kandinsky, as "the promised land of abstract art." A major review by Roberta Smith in The New York Times describes "a quietly stunning exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum that contrasts Albers's little-known photographs of the great Mesoamerican monuments of Mexico with his glowing abstract paintings."
Albers visited Mexico with his wife Anni 14 times between 1935 and the late 1960s. The black-and-white photographic works in this exhibition, many of which have never been shown publicly before, are drawn from hundreds the artist took at pre-Columbian archaeological sites and monuments. The exhibition also features related materials including maps tracing Albers's travels, letters and journals, images of the excavation sites, films, and undeveloped contact sheets drawn from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation archives. A slideshow featuring nine works from the exhibition in New York is included in Forbes. In a review of the show in The Wall Street Journal, Richard B. Woodward describes a "quietly provocative exhibition" that uncovers "previously hidden dimensions" in the artist's work.
A Guggenheim publication accompanying Josef Albers in Mexico features essays by Lauren Hinkson, who curated the exhibition, and Joaquín Barriendos, a map, and reproductions of works in the show. These are organized by region based on the pre-Columbian archaeological sites that the Alberses frequented. Related public programs at the Guggenheim in New York included curator's tours of the show.
Anni Albers, Untitled (Josef Albers, Mitla, Mexico), 1935-39 (detail). The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation © 2017 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Installation views, Josef Albers in Mexico, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2017