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Josef Albers - German Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Josef Albers (1888 - 1976)

Josef Albers received his formal art training in German art schools in Berlin, Essen, Munich, and the Bauhaus in Weimar. After completing his education, Albers worked as a furniture designer while developing his abstract art. Forced to leave Germany by the Nazis, he moved to the United States and taught at Black Mountain College and Yale University. By the 1950’s, Albers was working strictly with geometric shapes and color, studying the relationships between the two.

With the closure of the Bauhaus under Nazi pressure in 1933, Albers emigrated to the United States and joined the faculty of Black Mountain College, North Carolina, where he ran the painting program until 1949. At Black Mountain his students included Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ray Johnson and Susan Weil. 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 expressing one's self and his or her own style when one became an artist and began his or her journey

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 flat colored squares arranged concentrically on the canvas.

In 1971 (nearly five years before his death), Albers founded the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a not-for-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.

Albers' work represents a transition between traditional European art and the new American art.His work incorporated European influences from the constructivists and the Bauhaus movement, and its intensity and smallness of scale were typically European. However, 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.


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