Josef Albers

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Josef Albers (born March 19, 1888 in Bottrop , † March 25, 1976 in New Haven, Connecticut ) was a German painter , art theorist and teacher .


Origin and education

Josef Albers grew up as the son of the master painter Lorenz Albers and his wife Magdalena in Bottrop. After the preparation school in Langenhorst from 1902 to 1905, he attended the teachers' seminar in Büren from 1905 to 1908 and taught as a primary school teacher in Bottrop, Dülmen and Stadtlohn until 1913 . In 1908 he saw works by Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse for the first time in the Folkwang Museum in Hagen . Inspired by Piet Mondrian , he painted his first abstract picture in 1913. After studying at the Royal Art School in Berlin from 1913 to 1915 and the Kunstgewerbeschule in Essen from 1916 to 1919, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and from 1919-1920 with Franz von Stuck at the Art Academy in Munich .


Josef Albers Window in the Grassi Museum Leipzig

1920 visited Albers the preliminary course at the Bauhaus in Weimar by Johannes Itten , who mediated the artistic foundations of the craft figures in the Bauhaus workshops worked apart from his photographs and artifacts since abstract and then in the workshop for glass painting from 1924 to mural workshop on Belonged to Bauhaus . There he made assemblages and became a foreman for glass. From 1923 to 1928 he taught under Walter Gropius after leaving Itten, initially as a junior master and from 1925 as a Bauhaus master alongside László Moholy-Nagy in the preliminary course, which he continued alone under Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1928 to 1933 . In addition to the preliminary course, he took over the furniture workshop at the Bauhaus from Marcel Breuer when he and Walter Gropius left the Bauhaus in 1928. In his teaching, Albers always derived forms and functions from the properties of materials and their possibilities. In 1925 he moved with the Bauhaus to Dessau and married Annelise Fleischmann, who later became the textile artist Anni Albers . In 1927 he created the ensemble of 18 glass windows in the Leipzig Grassi Museum , which was destroyed in 1943 and reconstructed in 2011. In 1930, when Ludwig Mies van der Rohe took over the management of the Bauhaus, Albers became its deputy. In 1932 he had his first comprehensive solo exhibition with his glass works from 1926 to 1932 at the Bauhaus Dessau and, after the training company moved to Berlin from October 1932 until the Bauhaus closed under the National Socialists in April 1933, he also taught drawing and writing. In the same year Albers and his wife Anni Albers fled to the USA with the support of Philip Johnson .

Studying and teaching at Black Mountain College: Richard Buckminster Fuller (center) and Josef Albers (left), 1948

Black Mountain College and Yale University

On his recommendation, they went to the Black Mountain College art school in North Carolina , founded in 1933 by the classical philologist John Andrew Rice , where Albers also did project studies from November 28, 1933 to 1949 together with the former assistant to Oskar Schlemmer , Alexander Schawinsky , Richard Buckminster Fuller , John Cage , Merce Cunningham and many other artists taught and was rector in 1948/49. His students were there: Robert Rauschenberg , Donald Judd and Kenneth Noland . From 1934 to 1936 he belonged to the Paris artist group Abstraction-Création . In 1935 Josef and Anni Albers made their first visit to Cuba and Mexico of their fourteen study trips to Latin America, whose indigenous architecture and weaving art impressed them and influenced their later work. In 1939 they took American citizenship.

In 1950 Albers moved to Yale University and headed the Art Department from 1950 to 1959. His students there were u. a. Eva Hesse , Richard Serra , Richard Anuszkiewicz and Julian Stanczak . He also took on numerous guest lectureships (for example in Harvard, Hartford, Havana and Santiago de Chile). In 1954 and 1955 he taught as a visiting professor at the newly founded University of Design in Ulm , which was based on the teaching methods of the Bauhaus Dessau and was headed by Max Bill .

Work and appreciation

Homage to the Square from the Josef-Albers-Museum on a 100 Pfennig special postage stamp of the Deutsche Bundespost, 1993

Albers experimented with colors, shapes, lines, surfaces and their interactions on cognitive and subjective, optical perception : "Only appearances are not deceptive". Like Piet Mondrian, he had a great influence on the development of American painting. His work is part of concrete art , with its geometric-optical illusions, alongside that of Victor Vasarely, to the pioneers of Op Art and with his famous homage to the square to the Hard Edge . With this series he documents his investigations into the interaction (interaction of color, 1971) of three to four nested, unmixed, square colored areas that are troweled onto the image carrier and whose article numbers he noted on the back of the images to make it clear that a The viewer perceives colors for himself and with each other in completely different ways depending on the environment.

Josef Albers was a participant in documenta 1 in 1955 and the 4th documenta in 1968 in Kassel . In 1958 the Federal President awarded him the First Class Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In particular, the Westphalian Art Association , headed by Peter Leo and Dieter Honisch , campaigned for Alber's work and exhibited it. In 1968 he received the grand prize of the Third Bienal Americana Grabado , Santiago, Chile; the Grand Prize for Painting of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia , and in April opened the Albers traveling exhibition in the Westphalian State Museum for Art and Culture , which traveled through Europe until January 1970. In 1968 Albers was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters , 1973 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 1970 he became an honorary citizen of his hometown Bottrop . In 1971 the Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York, honored him as the first living artist with a retrospective and Albers founded the non-profit The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation to awaken and promote eyesight through art. In 1983 Anni Albers attended the opening of the Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop Square and donated works from her husband Josef's estate to the museum.


His most famous works are:

Josef Albers, Zwei Supraporte (1972) at the old location above the main entrance of the extension to the Westphalian State Museum for Art and Culture Münster (1974–2009), (photo 2006)
  • 1920/21: stained glass window for the Sommerfeld house
  • 1924: Park , Tate Gallery , London
  • 1926: 18 windows in the main stairwell of the Leipzig Grassi Museum . Restored after war damage in 2011.
  • 1931 Publication of the combination script
  • 1942: Series Graphic Tectonics , Josef-Albers-Museum Quadrat, Bottrop
  • 1948: Variant: brown, ocher, yellow , oil on hardboard, 45.7 × 64.7 cm
  • 1948–1953: Variant: Inside and Outside , oil on plywood, 44.8 × 67.4 cm, Wadsworth Atheneum , Hartford , Connecticut , USA
  • from 1950: series Homage to the Square (homage to the square), Josef-Albers-Museum Quadrat, Bottrop, and
  • Structural constellations
  • 1962: Spring in , Dorotheum auction, Vienna, May 2013
  • Josef Albers, Zwei Supraporten (1972), LWL Museum for Art and Culture (2014) at the new location "Pferdegasse" (Photo: 2015)
    1950/56: Study for Homage to the Square , oil on masonite , 29.6 × 29.6 cm, Grisebach, Berlin, May 2014.

Special exhibitions

  • 1968: Josef Albers on his 80th birthday. Lithographs - Serigraphs . Kestner Society , Hanover.
  • 1988: Josef Albers. A retrospective . State Art Gallery Baden-Baden , Bauhaus Archive Berlin, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum , New York City. Catalog.
  • 1998: Works on paper by Josef Albers . Art Museum Bonn . Catalog. Then in Schwerin, Dessau, Ulm.
  • 1998: Anni and Josef Albers . Art Museum Bern . DuMont catalog.
  • In 2011 the exhibition Painting on Paper was opened in the Josef Albers Museum . Josef Albers in America , which had previously been presented in Munich in the Pinakothek der Moderne .
  • In 2013/14, the Josef Albers Museum in the Bottrop square is documenting art as an experience in the special exhibition . Josef Albers as a teacher Josef Albers as a popular educator at the Bauhaus, at the American Black Mountain College and at Yale University. The focus is on developed vision, which, according to Albers, can be the beginning of an artistic activity. This makes the inner connection between teaching and his own artistic activity comprehensible. Exhibited teaching examples and the work of his students have so far hardly been shown to the public.
  • 2017/18: Josef Albers in Mexico , Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum , New York
  • 2018 in the Villa Hügel (Essen) : interaction. josef albers

Fonts (selection)

  • Josef Albers: POEMS AND DRAWINGS , 1958, 1961, Yale University Press 2006, ISBN 0-300-12033-8
  • Josef Albers: Interaction of Color - the foundations of a didactic of vision. Translation from the American by Gui Bonsiepe . Reprint: DuMont, Cologne 1997. Original edition Yale UP , New Haven 1963, first German text edition DuMont, Cologne 1970.
  • Josef Albers, Formulation: Articulation , 1972, 2006, ISBN 978-0-500-23828-8


in order of appearance

  • Kunsthaus Hamburg : josef albers • max hermann mahlmanngudrun piperhildegard strombergerwerner michaelis , 23 august to 2 september 1963. o. O. U. D. [Hamburg 1963].
  • Wieland Schmied : Josef Albers. For his 80th birthday. Lithographs - Serigraphs . Kestner Society , Hanover 1968.
  • Hans Joachim Albrecht : Color as Language. Robert Delaunay, Josef Albers, Richard Paul Lohse . Publisher DuMont Schauberg, Cologne 1974, ISBN 3-7701-0655-5 .
  • Eckhart Gillen (Ed.): Pictures of Germany. Art from a divided country. Catalog for the exhibition of the 47th Berliner Festwochen in the Martin-Gropius-Bau , September 7, 1997 to January 11, 1998, DuMont , Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-7701-4173-3 . (Catalog edition)
  • Brenda Danilowitz, Heinz Liesbrock (eds.): Anni and Josef Albers. Encounter with Latin America. Cantz , Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7757-1988-9 .
  • Silke von Berswordt-Wallrabe (Ed.): Only appearances are not deceptive. Seeing as an interactive process . Kerber, Bielefeld 2008.
  • Nicholas Fox Weber: The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism . Knopf , New York 2009, ISBN 978-0-307-26836-5 .
  • Hans Liesbrock (Ed.): Painting on paper. Josef Albers in America . Hatje Cantz , Ostfildern 2010, German-language edition: ISBN 978-3-7757-2586-6 , English-language edition: ISBN 978-3-7757-2587-3 .
  • Josef Albers: Learning to see. Josef Albers as a teacher, from Bauhaus to Yale; Catalog for the exhibition Art as Experience. Josef Albers as a teacher - the painter and his students from December 15, 2013 to March 30, 2014 in the Bottrop Square , with texts by Giovanni Iovane, Elisa Nocentini, Gregorio Battistoni, Brenda Danilowitz, Samuele Boncompagni, Roberta Panichi, Michael Beggs and a foreword by Nicholas Fox Weber, Bivange 2013 (in English and Italian).
  • Josef Albers. Interaction. Exhibition catalog Villa Hügel Essen, ed. by Heinz Liesbrock and Ulrike Growe, Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2018, with texts by Anni Albers , Josef Albers, Michael Beggs, Brenda Danilowitz, Charles Darwent, Donald Judd , Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Jeannette Redensek, Jerry Zeniuk and others. a.
  • Charles Darwent: Josef Albers. Life and work . Thames & Hudson, 2018, ISBN 978-0-500-51910-3
  • Martina Sauer: Josef Albers. "This is art ... experience" . Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, Wiesbaden 2018, ISBN 978-3-7374-0246-0 .

Web links

Commons : Josef Albers  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Westfäische message: Josef Albers at the Heinrich-Neuy Bauhaus Museum. Now comes a true master. WN, October 8, 2014, accessed May 12, 2018 .
  2. Mü Artwork of the month As Josef Albers saw Stadtlohn. Mü, March 17, 2011, accessed on May 12, 2018 .
  3. ^ Josef & Anni Albers Foundation , accessed March 15, 2016.
  4. ^ Bauhaus Online ( Memento from March 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on March 15, 2016.
  5. Maria Becker: Where should art arise, if not in nature? Black Mountain College was one of the most momentous schools of 20th century art. Students should learn more than just art. NZZ, May 9, 2018, accessed on May 12, 2018 .
  6. ^ Josef Albers: Photographs 1928-1955 . Ed .: Marianne Stockebrand. Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-88814-470-1 , p. 127 .
  7. Brenda Danilowitz, Heinz Liesbrock (ed.): Anni and Josef Albers, encounters with Latin America (catalog) . Josef Albers Museum Bottrop 2007.
  8. art et culture: Josef Albers 1888-1976 teaching at Yale, 1955. youtube, December 15, 2017, accessed on May 12, 2018 .
  9. Heinz Liesbrock: Anni and Josef Albers, encounters with Latin America (catalog) . Ed .: Brenda Danilowitz, Heinz Liesbrock. Josef Albers Museum Bottrop 2007, p. 7 .
  10. ^ The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation: homage to the square. Retrieved May 12, 2018 .
  11. ^ The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation: interaction of color. Retrieved May 12, 2018 .
  12. Katharina Cichosch: Thinking color? From the revolutionary salary of Josef Albers. July 19, 2016, accessed May 30, 2018 .
  13. ^ The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation: Mission. The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation, 2018, accessed May 31, 2018 .
  14. ^ Josel Albers: Formulation: Articulation . Thames & Hudson, London 2006, ISBN 978-0-500-23828-8 , pp. 165 .
  15. ^ The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation: Josef Albers, selected works. The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation, 2018, accessed May 31, 2018 .
  16. ^ Albers: combination script. Retrieved May 28, 2019 .
  17. ^ The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation: Homages to the square. The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation, 2018, accessed May 3, 2018 .
  18. ^ The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation: structural constellations. The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation, 2018, accessed May 31, 2018 .
  19. ^ Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop Current: Art as Experience. Josef Albers as a teacher - the painter and his students December 15 to March 30, 2014 , accessed on March 15, 2016
  20. ^ Solomon R. Guggenheim New York: Josef Albers in Mexico , accessed on November 3, 2017
  21. ^ FAZ Frankfurter Allgemeine from January 1, 2018: Josef Albers in the Guggenheim. Promised Land of Abstraction , by Michael Watzka , accessed January 2, 2018
  22. Villa Hügel Essen Homepage ( Memento of the original from July 5, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed March 15, 2018 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /