Josef Albers in D.C.
“I think being different, going against the grain of society is the greatest thing in the world.” - Elijah Wood
Learning about the Bauhaus movement was an eye-opening experience into the design world and had a tremendous affect on me. Since that first introduction, I have visited the original school site and read most of the published books on the subject. It seems as if I can’t get enough of Bauhaus. Recently, I enjoyed the MoMA retrospective on the school. Among the plethora of master works, Josef Alber’s stood out the most for me. I cherish the square dances of his paintings; the flirtations of the colorful squares calm me and inspire me to relearn the pure technique of chromatherapy.
During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., someone recommended me to visit the Hirshorn Museum and see an exhibition on selected works by Josef Alber. My friend knew I was in love with Alber’s works and it turned into a perfect 40-minute break away from the National Mall.
I had not previously noticed the distinctive look of the museum, which reminded me this time of a sculpture. Not only did I enjoy Josef Alber’s works, but also I appreciated the architecture of the late Gordon Bunshaft, with whom I was unfamiliar. Appropriately, the museum stands out with its hyper-statuesque aesthetics. The museum is not harmonious with the other institutions on the mall, but rather sits like a space ship, which has just landed on the fringe.
Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted by a monumental water fountain and a pool of sunlight descending upon the wide open inner courtyard. The museum is lifted up to next level providing a fantastic juxtaposition of air, light, and architecture. Inside, the museum’s circular shape provides one to experience the processional space in a linear sequence. The collections are easy to review and observe at one’s own pace. Particularly the sunken outdoor sculpture garden, also designed by Bunshaft, is subtle, but the experience is consistently calm, as the enveloping trees block the busy traffic of the mall.
I highly recommend a visit to the Hirshorn, especially if other museums seem ornate and predictable, and until then, enjoy the selected images from my visit.