Emily Fisher Landau was, simply put, one of the greatest collectors and patrons of the twentieth century. Her legacy is set apart for her deep and longstanding involvement with leading institutions, in particular the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as her profound engagement with the art and artists of her time and her unerring instinct as a collector at the highest level. Fisher Landau assembled one of the greatest collections of modern and contemporary art – over 100 works of which are coming to auction at Sotheby’s on 8–9 November.
Join us over the next 20 days leading up to the Emily Fisher Landau Evening Auction on 8 November as our specialists spotlight 20 key works from the Collection, celebrating their impact on twentieth-century art. Here, Emily Miles reflects on the significance of Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square: Yellow Resonance as part of our series The Emily Fisher Landau Collection: Twentieth Century Art in Twenty Unforgettable Works.
Josef Albers’ ‘Homage to the Square: Yellow Resonance’
Josef Albers’ acclaimed body of work “Homage to the Square” is regarded today as one of the most iconic series of twentieth-century art, and Homage to the Square: Yellow Resonance from 1957 is a superlative example. Albers considered color not as the tool to articulate his subject, but as the very content of painting itself. Epitomizing the themes that lie at the very heart of Albers’ praxis, Homage to the Square: Yellow Resonance utilizes the optical effects of varying chromatic contrasts to illustrate the relativity of color and suggests that visual experience can be simultaneously scientific and subjective.
To me, Yellow Resonance is an especially powerful example of the “Homage” series. The bold and dynamic combination of ochre, white and cadmium yellow creates a syncopated visual rhythm, each register enlivened by the next. Albers’ meticulous attention to chromatic detail is unrivaled, and its effects can be felt throughout the pantheon of postwar American art, from former pupil Mark Rothko’s absorptive oil paintings to the Minimalist works of Donald Judd.
Acquired in 1968 and remaining in Emily Fisher Landau’s collection for over 50 years, Homage to the Square: Yellow Resonance retains particular significance for the collector. She first came across Albers’ work that same year, illustrated on a poster in the window of Pace Gallery, and this fortuitous encounter spawned one of the greatest collecting endeavors to date. “From the moment I saw that Albers,” Fisher Landau recalled, “I knew I loved simplicity. Albers was my beginning point as a collector.”