Josef Albers used his Homage to the Square series, from which this work comes, not only to catalogue the behavior of color but also to explore its expressive potential. The squares, imbued with light, may have grown out of Albers's work with stained glass in his early career (some of which he spent teaching at Black Mountain College in western North Carolina). The shifts in color and internal scale make the squares recede, advance, or hover ambiguously in relation to one another. The clearly handmade surfaces give a gently uneven, hand-tooled quality to the painting. In the nested-square format, the scientist and the expressionist come together to reveal how color can distort and transform matter and form, creating effects that have emotional impact. "Abstract art," Albers wrote, "is the purest art: it strives most intensely toward the spiritual."