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Anthony Auerbach

My thesis on Structural Constellations was accompanied by a catalogue of some 1,500 drawings in the collection of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Most of the drawings related to Structural Constellations were not intended for exhibition and had not previously been examined.

Albers made hundreds of sketches in pocket notebooks, often while travelling. He used Filofax loose-leaf notebooks to edit, organise and catalogue his designs. He preserved many working drawings in which he refined the designs for specific media and which he used to communicate with fabricators. He also kept half-finished or defective drawings and well as finished drawings intended for presentation or for reproduction.

While Albers’ method of working in series — in permutations — (not to mention his preference for loose-leaf sketchbooks) defies the notion of development that animates traditional drawing scholarship, the drawings offer insights into his practice which are vital for an interpretation of his work, for example: on the function of the grid as the generator or transmitter of images, and on Albers’ effort to produce an autonomous work, that is to say, a work that works without him, unauthenticated by his autograph.

The catalogue appended to my doctoral thesis amounted to about 300 pages and was bound in a separate volume. The material of the appendix thus formed a counterweight to the volume of interpretation.

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