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Josef Albers

Biographies
Josef Albers

*  1888 Bottrop
† 1976 Orange/Connecticut


Following his academic education in Berlin, Essen and Munich Josef Albers began his studies at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1920. Already in 1923 he received his first commission to run the glass painting workshop, marking the starting point of a great pedagogical and artistic career. Over the following decade he designed apart from glass pictures numerous pieces of furniture, glass and metal objects. Colour hardly played a role during that time. Possibly inspired by Theo van Doesburg ('De Sijl'), the artist created clear arrangements, independent from nature. Single subjects and sujets were often varied - an important continuum in Albers' works. In 1933, after the closing down of the Bauhaus by the National Socialists, Josef Albers was appointed to a chair at the Black Mountain College in Ashville, North Carolina and moved to the USA. His teaching profession ended with his retirement as the director of the Institute of Fine Arts' art school of the Yale university in 1958. With his move to the USA a new period began in the artist's producing. Albers experimented with linear forms, which break through the safety of geometric arrangements, in which he also included colours. This 'geometric Surrealism' (Werner Spies) challenged the viewer's sensory perception, who was intended to live through the piece of art and to recreate it.
Series like 'Homage to the Square' dealt with the interactions of colours, which can change their effect indefinitely by a simple comparison. As an artist Albers was pathbreaking for a whole generation of American artists. Op-Art, kinetic art, Colourfield Painting and New Abstraction were influenced by his work. Albers, who became internationally known with the exhibition 'the Responsive Eye' at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, received several honours, fourteen times the honorary doctorate and in 1968 the Grand Cross of Merit of the order 'Pour le Mérite`.