Josef Albers

About Josef Albers

Josef Albers was born in 1888, in Bottrop, Germany. As a student and later teacher at the Bauhaus, from 1920 to 1933, he cultivated a deep appreciation for craft and manual work. Albers emigrated to the United States in 1933 and became the head of the art department at Black Mountain College, near Asheville, North Carolina. There, Albers created a course to teach an “experimental way of studying color and teaching color,” which included exercises to encourage students to see colors in specific contexts to better understand their functions and potentials. He continued to develop the course when he took up the position of Head of the Department of Design at Yale University in 1950, where he taught until 1958. Albers applied his color theories to create his own work as well. In the same year that he moved to New Haven, he began his famous series of paintings, drawings, and prints entitled Homage to the Square, which he would continue until his death in 1976. In addition to painting, printmaking, and executing murals and architectural commissions, Albers published poetry, articles, and books on art, such as his seminal 1963 work entitled Interaction of Color. In 1936, Albers was given his first solo show in New York at J. B. Neumann’s New Art Circle. Between 1935 and the late 60s, Albers and his wife, the artist Anni Albers, took more than a dozen trips to Mexico to study the art and architecture of ancient Mesoamerica. He took hundreds of photographs on these visits and later created photocollages from these images. In 1971, Albers became the first living artist to receive a solo retrospective exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Recent major exhibitions include a Painting on Paper; Josef Albers in America organized by Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich in 2010, which travelled to museums such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Kunstmuseum Basel, and Josef Albers in Mexico, which took place at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice in 2018.