Josef Albers

German, 1888 - 1976
Born in 1888 in Bottrop, Germany, Josef Albers inherited an appreciation for fine craftsmanship from his father, a laborer in the Ruhr River region, and his mother, the daughter of a line of blacksmiths. Throughout his life, he never strayed far from the belief that, at bottom, craft preceded "art." An early beginning in academic art schooling did not long hold Albers from going his own way. His drawings of 1915-18, after his return from the Konigliche Kuntschule in Berlin, show an early predilection for minimal statement. Technically precise, they show a no-nonsense, spare rendition of the essential elements of his subjects. Albers's affiliation with the Bauhaus is a well documented period of his life; he spent more time there than did anyone else (from 1920 to 1933). One can easily see that the Bauhaus's famous dictum of "Less is More" was in complete harmony with Albers's own bent. The Nazi closing of the school in 1933 led to Albers's emigration to the United States. His influence on other artists both there, and later at the Black Mountain college in North Carolina and, finally, at Yale, is also well known. It was the series Homage to the Square that brought Josef Albers to wide public attention and was, in fact, the core of his one-man retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971. This was the first such honor given to a living artist at that institution. It was in this series that Albers brought the full powers of his study of color (light) into sharp focus. The square form (called "platters" by Albers) was chosen since it would offer the least interference with his wish to "serve up" to the viewer's attention the interaction of color combinations. It was also the Homage to the Square series which lay at the heart of his course on color at Yale and which served as the basis for his book, Interaction of Color, published in 1963.
Josef Albers Prints
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