Josef Albers (1888 - 1976), born in Bottrop, Germany, was one of the most influential and innovative painters and printmakers of the twentieth century. Making use of numerous media, including etching, engraving, woodcut, lithography and screenprinting, Albers earliest prints were made whilst studying in Essen, Germany, from 1916 - 1919.
His early graphic works illustrate the development of the rigorous modernist aesthetic for which he became synonymous, as well as a fascination for the possibilities offered by the various techniques and materials of printmaking. From the 1940s onwards, his Homages to the Square came to dominate his art and teaching. This series presented the square as the ideal vehicle for his explorations into colour. Albers began his Squares in paint, but soon came to depend on print processes, particularly screenprinting, as it offered an evenness and clarity of colour unavailable in oil or acrylic. The medium of print liberated Albers, allowing him to transform the elements of line, colour and space in his work.
Albers studied briefly at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Kunst, Munich, in 1919 before becoming a student at the Bauhaus in 1920. In 1922, Albers joined the school's faculty, first working in stained glass and a year later teaching design. By 1933, when pressure from the Nazis forced the school to close, Josef and Anni Albers emigrated to North Carolina, USA, where they founded the art department at Black Mountain College. In 1950 they moved to Connecticut, where Albers was invited to direct a newly formed department of design at Yale University School of Art.
During this time, Albers began to show his work extensively within the United States. In 1964 the International Council of Museum of Modern Art, New York, organised the exhibition Josef Albers: Homage to the Square, which opened in Caracas, Venezuela, and travelled to 22 venues in the United States and Latin America until 1967. With his wife, Anni, he frequently travelled to Mexico, visiting archaeological sites, studying the monumental constructions and amassing a large collection of sculptures and ceramics.
In 1971 Albers became the first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Albers retired from teaching in 1958, just prior to the publication of his influential study, Interaction of Color (1963), which was reissued in two volumes in 2013.
More recent exhibitions include Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2018); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2018); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2016) and Museo delle Culture, Milan (2015). Josef Albers: Process and Printmaking, opened at Museo Fundación Juan March, Palma, in 2014 and travelled to Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca, and the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat, Bottrop.
Josef Albers died aged 88 in 1976, in Connecticut, USA. Albers' pervasive influence, both as artist and teacher, continues today, and his work is housed in major collections all over the world.
Cristea Roberts Gallery is the exclusive worldwide representative for the prints from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Josef Albers first retrospective in Japan
Josef Albers: Pedagogical Experiments explores the life and work of Albers, including archival documentation relating to his teaching and works by his students.
Books: Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color turns sixty this year
Albers’ classic book exploring colour relationships still ranks among Yale University Press’ all-time bestsellers.