Albers, Josef

Albers, Josef Biography

German-American oil painter, poet, sculptor, teacher, and theoretician of art, important as an innovator of such styles as Colour Field painting and Op art. Albers attended art schools in Berlin, Essen, and Munich and then studied at the avant-garde Bauhaus laboratory-workshop from 1920 to 1923. He taught design at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1923 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932, After 1925, when Albers became a "master" at the Bauhaus, Albers explored a style of oil painting characterized by the reiteration of abstract rectilinear patterns and the use of primary colours along with white and black.. He emphasized functionalism and suitability in modern design. In 1933, when the Nazi government closed the Bauhaus, Albers left Germany for the United States. On the recommendation of architect Philip Johnson, Albers organized the fine-arts curriculum at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he taught until 1949.When Yale University formed a department of design in 1950, Albers became its head, retiring from that position in 1958.

Albers emphasized rectilinear shapes of strong, flat color. The interplay of hues heightened the nonrepresentational, purely optical effect of the forms. In the famous experimental Homage to the Square series, on which Albers worked through the 1950s, progressively smaller forms are calculated to illustrate his theories of how changes in placement, shape, and light produce changes in color. His work influenced the op art and minimal art of the 1960s.

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