Anni and Josef were enthralled by automobiles: their designs, their functionality, their symbolic significance. Shortly after Anni had enrolled at the Bauhaus in Weimar, two of her rich uncles came to visit her in a Hispano Suiza; she immediately rushed them to a back street so that no one at the school would associate her with the wealth that the car represented. At Black Mountain, Anni and Josef were delighted to drive to Mexico in Ted and Bobbie Dreier’s Model “A” Ford. They first bought their own car when they moved to New Haven, Connecticut in 1950 and acquired their first house, a ten-minute drive from Yale University, where Josef was teaching.
In the mid 1960s, an art critic visiting Josef observed to him that it was only in 1962 that he had begun to paint Homages to the Square that were 48 x 48 in.; previously the largest ones had been 40 x 40 in. The critic asked first if this was a response to the scale of Abstract Expressionist painting, to which Josef answered with a definitive “no.” Then came the question as to whether it was a reaction to the large scale of the US compared to Josef’s native Europe; again, he said “no,” as he did to the query as to whether the larger size had to do with the current interest in outer space. Following that last question, Josef retorted, “Young man, it was the year when we got a larger station wagon.”