March 19, 1888|
Bottrop, Westphalia, Germany
|Died||March 25, 1976
New Haven, Connecticut
|Field||Abstract Painting, Study of Color|
Josef Albers (March 19, 1888 – March 25, 1976) was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the 20th century.
Life and work 
Albers was born into a Roman Catholic family of craftsmen in Bottrop, Westphalia, Germany. He worked from 1908 to 1913 as a schoolteacher in his home town, where in 1918 he also received his first public commission, Rosa mystica ora pro nobis, a stained-glass window for a church. He studied art in Berlin, Essen, and Munich, before enrolling as a student in the basic course of Johannes Itten at the prestigious Weimar Bauhaus in 1920. Although Albers studied painting, it was as a maker of stained glass that he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus in 1922, approaching his chosen medium as a component of architecture and as a stand-alone art form. The director and founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, asked him in 1923 to teach in the preliminary course ‘Werklehre' of the Department of Design to introduce newcomers to the principles of handicrafts, because Albers came from that background and had appropriate practice and knowledge. In 1925, Albers was promoted to Professor, the year the Bauhaus moved to Dessau. At this time, he married Anni Albers (née Fleischmann) who was also a student there. His work in Dessau included designing furniture and working with glass. As a younger art teacher, he was teaching at the Bauhaus with artists including Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Klee was the so-called form master who taught the formal aspects in the glass workshops where Albers was the crafts master; they cooperated for several years.
With the closure of the Bauhaus under Nazi pressure in 1933, Albers emigrated to the United States. The architect Philip Johnson, then a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, arranged for Albers to be offered a job as head of a new art school, Black Mountain College, North Carolina. In November 1933, he joined the faculty of the college where he ran the painting program until 1949. At Black Mountain, his students included Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ray Johnson and Susan Weil. He also invited important American artists as Willem de Kooning, to teach in the summer seminar. Weil remarked that, as a teacher, Albers was "his own academy" and said that Albers claimed that "when you’re in school, you’re not an artist, you’re a student", though he was very supportive of self-expression when one became an artist and began his or her journey. Albers produced many woodcuts and leaf studies at this time.
In 1950, Albers left Black Mountain to head the Department of Design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. While at Yale, Albers worked to expand the nascent graphic design program (then called "graphic arts"), hiring designers Alvin Eisenman, Herbert Matter and Alvin Lustig. Albers worked at Yale until he retired from teaching in 1958. In 1962, as a fellow at Yale, he received a grant from the Graham Foundation for an exhibit and lecture on his work. At Yale, Richard Anuszkiewicz and Eva Hesse were notable students. Albers also collaborated with Yale professor and architect King-lui Wu in creating decorative designs for some of Wu's projects. Among these were distinctive geometric fireplaces for the Rouse (1954) and DuPont (1959) houses, the façade of Manuscript Society, one of Yale's secret senior groups (1962), and a design for the Mt. Bethel Baptist Church (1973). Also, at this time he worked on his structural constellation pieces. In 1963, he published Interaction of Color which presented his theory that colors were governed by an internal and deceptive logic. Also during this time, he created the abstract album covers of band leader Enoch Light's Command LP records. His album cover for Terry Snyder and the All Stars 1959 album Persuasive Percussion shows a tightly packed grid or lattice of small black disks from which a few wander up and out like stray molecules of some light gas. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973. Albers continued to paint and write, staying in New Haven with his wife, textile artist Anni Albers, until his death in 1976.
Homage to the Square 
Accomplished as a designer, photographer, typographer, printmaker and poet, Albers is best remembered for his work as an abstract painter and theorist. He favored a very disciplined approach to composition. Most famous of all are the hundreds of paintings and prints that make up the series Homage to the Square. In this rigorous series, begun in 1949, Albers explored chromatic interactions with nested squares. Painting usually on Masonite, he used a palette knife with oil colors and often recorded colors used on the back of his works. Each consists of either three or four squares of solid planes of colour nested within one another, in one of four different arrangements and in square formats ranging from 406×406 mm to 1.22×1.22 m.
In 1959, Albers' gold-leaf mural Two Structural Constellations, was engraved in the lobby of the Corning Glass Building in Manhattan. For the entrance of the Time & Life Building[disambiguation needed] lobby, he created Two Portals (1961), a 42-by-14-foot mural of alternating glass bands in white and brown that recede into two bronze centers to create an illusion of depth. In the 1960s Walter Gropius, who was designing the Pan Am Building with Emery Roth & Sons and Pietro Belluschi, commissioned Albers to make a mural. The artist reworked City, a sandblasted glass construction that he had designed in 1929 at the Bauhaus, and renamed it Manhattan. The giant abstract mural of black, white and red strips arranged in interwoven columns stands 28 feet high and 55 feet wide and was installed in the building's lobby. Before his death in 1976 Albers left exact specifications of the work so it could easily be replicated. In 1967, his painted mural Growth (1965) as well as Loggia Wall (1965), a brick relief, were installed on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Other architectural works include Gemini (1972), a stainless steel relief for the Grand Avenue National Bank lobby in Kansas City, Missouri, and Reclining Figure (1972), a mosaic mural for the Celanese Building in Manhattan destroyed in 1980. At the invitation of a former student, the architect Harry Seidler, Josef designed the mural Wrestling (1976) for Seidler’s Mutual Life Center in Sydney, Australia.
Style and influences 
He was known to meticulously list the specific manufacturer's colours and varnishes he used on the backs of his works, as if the colours were catalogued components of an optical experiment. His work represents a transition between traditional European art and the new American art. It incorporated European influences from the constructivists and the Bauhaus movement, and its intensity and smallness of scale were typically European. But his influence fell heavily on American artists of the late 1950s and the 1960s. "Hard-edge" abstract painters drew on his use of patterns and intense colors, while Op artists and conceptual artists further explored his interest in perception.
In an article about the artist, published in 1950, Elaine de Kooning concluded that however impersonal his paintings might at first appear, not one of them “could have been painted by any one but Josef Albers himself.” Although their relationship was often tense, and sometimes even combative, Robert Rauschenberg later identified Albers as his most important teacher.
In 1936, Albers was given his first solo show in New York at J. B. Neumann’s New Art Circle. He participated in documentas I (1955) and IV (1968) in Kassel. A major Albers exhibition, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, traveled in South America, Mexico, and the United States from 1965 to 1967. In 1971 he was the first living artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In 2010, a show of 80 oil works on paper, many never exhibited before, was mounted by the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, later travelling to other venues, including Centre Pompidou, Paris, and The Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
The Josef Albers papers, documents from 1929 to 1970, were donated by the artist to the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art in 1969 and 1970. In 1971 (nearly five years before his death), Albers founded the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a non-profit organization he hoped would further "the revelation and evocation of vision through art." Today, this organization not only serves as the office Estate of both Josef Albers and his wife Anni Albers, but also supports exhibitions and publications focused on Albers works. The official Foundation building is located in Bethany, Connecticut, and "includes a central research and archival storage center to accommodate the Foundation's art collections, library and archives, and offices, as well as residence studios for visiting artists." The U.S. copyright representative for the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation is the Artists Rights Society. The executive director of the foundation is Nicholas Fox Weber, an author of fourteen books. Later the foundation has been instrumental in having four Albers fakes from Italy, on sale in auction houses and galleries in France and Germany, seized by the police.
In 1997, one year after auction house Sotheby's had bought the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the main beneficiary of the artists' estates, did not renew its three-year contract with the gallery. Today the foundation is represented by The Pace Gallery, New York, Waddington Custot Galleries, London, and the Alan Cristea Gallery, London.
A large part of his estate is now held by the Josef-Albers-Museum in Bottrop, where he was born.
Art market 
See also 
- Architype Albers (typeface based on Albers 1927–1931 experimentation with geometrically constructed stencil type)
- Robert Rauschenberg (American sculptor and painter of the New Dada movement, noted student of Albers)
- Richard Anuszkiewicz (American painter of the Op-Art movement, noted student of Albers)
- Norman Carlberg (sculptor, noted student of Albers)
- Erwin Hauer (sculptor, noted student of Albers)
- Harry Seidler (architect, noted student of Albers)
- Eva Hesse (sculptor, noted student of Albers)
- Julian Stanczak (painter, noted student of Albers)
- Robert Engman (sculptor, noted student of Albers)
- Cora Kelley Ward (painter, noted student of Albers)
- "Josef Albers, Artist and Teacher, Dies". New York Times. 26 March 1976. p. 33. Retrieved 2008-03-21
- Roderick Conway Morris (October 21, 2011), Making of a Bauhaus Master New York Times.
- Holland Cotter (July 26, 2012), Harmony, Harder Than It Looks - ‘Josef Albers in America: Painting on Paper,’ at the Morgan New York Times.
- Pepe Carmel (June 25, 1995), A Modern Master of Bottles, Scraps and Squares New York Times.
- Robert Ayers (March 29, 2006). Susan Weil. ARTINFO. Retrieved 2008-04-22
- Rob Roy Kelly (June 23, 1989). "Origins: Yale years". Retrieved 2010-02-09
- Masheck, Joseph (Dec-Jan 2009-2010). "ALBERS’ RECORD JACKETS: Doing an Artful Job". The Brooklyn Rail.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- Josef Albers Museum of Modern Art, New York.
- David W. Dunlap (June 17, 2002), Press 'L' for Landmark; Time & Life Lobby, a 50's Gem, Awaits Recognition New York Times.
- Carol Vogel (July 9, 2001), A Familiar Mural Finds Itself Without a Wall New York Times.
- Josef Albers: February 28 — March 27, 2007 Waddington Custot Galleries, London.
- Piper, David. The Illustrated History of Art, ISBN 0-7537-0179-0, p469.
- Piper, David. The Illustrated History of Art, ISBN 0-7537-0179-0, p470.
- Christopher Knight (May 14, 2008), Robert Rauschenberg, 1925 - 2008: He led the way to Pop Art Los Angeles Times.
- Josef Albers Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
- The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation website
- The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation: Mission Statement
- Most frequently requested artists list of the Artists Rights Society
- Carol Vogel (October 3, 1997), Sotheby's Loses Albers Estate New York Times.
- Josef Albers Fondation Beyeler, Riehen.
- J.S. Marcus (December 18, 2010), Re-Examining a Famed Teacher Wall Street Journal.
Further reading 
- Albers, Josef (1975). Interaction of Color. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11595-6.
- Bucher, François (1977). Josef Albers: Despite Straight Lines: An Analysis of His Graphic Constructions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Danilowitz, Brenda; Fred Horowitz (2006). Josef Albers: to Open Eyes : The Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale. Phaidon Press. ISBN 978-0-7148-4599-9.
- Diaz, Eva (2008). "The Ethics of Perception: Josef Albers in the United States". Volume XC Number 2 (June): The Art Bulletin.
- Harris, Mary Emma (1987). The Arts at Black Mountain College. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
- Weber, Nicholas Fox; Fred Licht (1988). Josef Albers: A Retrospective (exh. cat.). New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications. ISBN 978-0-8109-1876-4.
- Weber, Nicholas Fox; Fred Licht, Brenda Danilowitz (1994). Josef Albers: Glass, Color, and Light (exh. cat., Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice). New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications. ISBN 978-0-8109-6864-6.
- Wurmfeld, Sanford; Neil K. Rector, Floyd Ratliff (August 1, 1996). Color Function Painting: The Art of Josef Albers, Julian Stanczak and Richard Anuszkiewicz. Contemporary Collections. ISBN 978-0-9720956-0-0.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Joseph Albers|
- Josef Albers at the Museum of Modern Art
- Josef Albers Guggenheim Museum
- The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation* The Pace Gallery
- Tate Modern Exhibition, London 2006
- Cooper Hewitt Museum Exhibition, 2004
- Josef Albers in the National Gallery of Australia's Kenneth Tyler Collection
- Art Signature Dictionary -signatures and monograms Here are examples of genuine signatures by Josef Albers
Archives of American Art collection:
- Josef Albers interview, 1968 June 22-July 5
- Josef Albers letters to J. B. Neumann, 1934-1947
- Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970
Works By Josef Albers
- Brooke Alexander Gallery
- Google images; many pictures of the artworks made by Albers
- Google images; many pictures of the artworks made by Albers