From Bauhaus to ukiyo-e – Josef and Anni Albers and Masami Teraoka

Josef Albers Gray instrumentation Ik 1974The revolutionary art of Anni and Josef Albers and Masami Teraoka’s ukiyo-e style works feature in two new exhibitions as part of the National Gallery’s Kenneth E. Tyler Collection series.

Opening 8 June 2024, Anni & Josef Albers presents the work of two leading pioneers of 20th-century Modernism. Exploring the Bauhaus art movement of the 1930s, and its influence on artistic expression across Europe, the exhibition celebrates the contributions of Anni and Josef Albers to minimalist abstraction, and their far-reaching legacy within an Australian context.

Guided by Josef’s explosive use of colour and Anni’s command of pattern making and weaving, Anni & Josef Albers brings together 119 works by the artists and their contemporaries including prints, weaving and painting.

Key works include Anni’s Meander and Mountainous series, and Josef’s Homage to the Square: On an Early Sky, Gray Instrumentation and White line square series. Also included in the exhibition are works by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Paul Klee, Gunta Stölzl and Lotte Stam-Beese.

The Bauhaus art school was a brief but monumental modernist project in the early 20th century. Across 15 years, students and masters came together in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin under the common goal of renewing artistic endeavour, rejecting the academies of the past to embrace a new spirit.

Meeting in 1922 at the Bauhaus, Anni and Josef married three years later. The couple then brought the interdisciplinary Bauhaus philosophy to the liberal Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1933 teaching a new generation of artists through practices that emphasised form, material and process.

NGA Masami Teraoka Catfish envy 1993 Contemporary Japanese American artist Masami Teraoka is known for his unique fusion of historic art aesthetics with contemporary themes. The first solo exhibition of his work in Australia, Masami Teraoka and Japanese ukiyo-e prints will open on 21 September 2024.

Born in Japan in 1936, Teraoka initially studied Aesthetics before moving to Los Angeles in 1961. Teraoka’s immersion in American culture profoundly influenced him artistically and personally, he became an insightful observer and commentator of Japanese and American culture.

From the early 1970s, he adopted traditional 17th–19th century Japanese ukiyo-e print making techniques combining them with elements of American Pop Art to reflect on contemporary issues such as globalisation, culture clash, and the AIDS crisis.

The exhibition will showcase Teraoka’s ukiyo-e style works alongside traditional ukiyo-e prints, exploring their visual, strategic and thematic connections. Notable ukiyo-e artists featured will include Utagawa Kunisada, Katsushika Hokusai, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. A highlight of this Kenneth E. Tyler Collection exhibition will be Teraoka’s Hawaii snorkel series, created at Tyler Graphics Limited in 1992/93.

From 1966 until 2001 master printer Kenneth Tyler collaborated with some of the most influential artists of the 20th century on projects that pushed the artistic and technical boundaries of printmaking including Anni and Josef Albers Masami Teraoka. Archival materials in both exhibitions showcase the hybrid techniques and innovative approaches Tyler employed to help the artists realise their visions.

“We are honoured to present these two important exhibitions, the next in the series drawn from the riches of the Kenneth E Tyler Collection,” said National Gallery Director, Dr Nick Mitzevich. “Anni and Josef Albers are iconic figures in the narrative of modernism with a far-reaching legacy. Through dynamic displays of artworks and archival material audiences will be able to experience their revolutionary and innovative practice.”

“Works by internationally acclaimed contemporary artist Masami Teraoka are shown for the first time in a dedicated exhibition in Australia. The exhibition is coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the National Gallery’s seminal exhibition Don’t leave me this way: Art in the age of AIDS, which featured works by Teraoka. The exhibition captured the relentless onslaught of HIV/AIDS on our society. Thirty years on, it is timely to present this exhibition of Teraoka’s work,” said Dr Mitzevich.

Anni & Josef Albers and Masami Teraoka and Japanese ukiyo-e prints are Kenneth E. Tyler exhibitions. The National Gallery gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Anni & Josef Albers Exhibition Patron Penelope Seidler AM.

Anni & Josef Albers will be on display 8 June – 22 September 2024. Masami Teraoka and Japanese ukiyo-e prints will be on display 21 September 2024 – 2 March 2025.

Image: Josef Albers, Gray instrumentation Ik, 1974, National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra, purchased 1975 © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. VG Bild-Kunst/Copyright Agency | Masami Teraoka, Catfish envy, 1993, National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra, gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002