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His father, Lorenzo Albers, was variously a housepainter, carpenter, and handyman. His mother came from a family of blacksmiths. His childhood included practical training in engraving glass, plumbing, and wiring, giving Josef versitility and lifelong confidence in the handling and manipulation of diverse materials. From to he began his work as a printmaker at the Kunstgewerbschule in Essen, where he learnt stained-glass making with Dutch artist Johan Thorn Prikker.
Albers enrolled as a student in the preliminary course Vorkurs of Johannes Itten at the Weimar Bauhaus in Although Albers had studied painting, it was as a maker of stained glass that he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus in , approaching his chosen medium as a component of architecture and as a stand-alone art form.
In , the year the Bauhaus moved to Dessau , Albers was promoted to professor. His work in Dessau included designing furniture and working with glass. As a younger instructor, he was teaching at the Bauhaus among established artists who included Oskar Schlemmer , Wassily Kandinsky , and Paul Klee. The so-called "form master" Klee taught the formal aspects in the glass workshops where Albers was the "crafts master;" they cooperated for several years.
With the closure of the Bauhaus under Nazi pressure in the artists dispersed, most leaving the country. Albers emigrated to the United States. He also invited important American artists such as Willem de Kooning , to teach in the summer seminar. Weil remarked that, as a teacher, Albers was "his own academy". She said that Albers claimed that "when you're in school, you're not an artist, you're a student", although he was very supportive of self-expression when one became an artist and began on her or his journey.
While at Yale, Albers worked to expand the nascent graphic design program then called " graphic arts " , hiring designers Alvin Eisenman , Herbert Matter , and Alvin Lustig. In , as a fellow at Yale, he received a grant from the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies of Fine Arts for an exhibit and lecture on his work.
Albers also collaborated with Yale professor and architect King-lui Wu in creating decorative designs for some of Wu's projects. Bethel Baptist Church Also, at this time he worked on his structural constellation pieces. In , he published Interaction of Color which presented his theory that colors were governed by an internal and deceptive logic. The very rare first edition has a limited printing of only 2, copies and contained silk screen plates.
This work has been republished since and is now even available as an iPad App. Also during this time, he created the abstract album covers of band leader Enoch Light 's Command LP records. His album cover for Terry Snyder and the All Stars album, Persuasive Percussion , shows a tightly packed grid or lattice of small black disks from which a few wander up and out as if stray molecules of some light gas.
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 , especially in the hundreds of paintings and prints that make up the series, Homage to the Square. In this rigorous series, begun in , Albers explored chromatic interactions with nested squares.
Usually painting on Masonite , he used a palette knife with oil colors and often recorded the colors he used on the back of his works. The artist reworked City , a sandblasted glass construction that he had designed in at the Bauhaus, and renamed it Manhattan. The giant abstract mural of black, white, and red strips arranged in interwoven columns stood feet high and feet wide and was installed in the lobby of the building; it was removed during a lobby redesign around Before he died in , Albers left exact specifications of the work so it could easily be replicated and in it was and reinstalled in its original place in the Pan Am building now renamed MetLife.
Other architectural works include Gemini , a stainless steel relief for the Grand Avenue National Bank lobby in Kansas City, Missouri , and Reclining Figure , a mosaic mural for the Celanese Building in Manhattan destroyed in He was known to meticulously list the specific manufacturer's colours and varnishes he used on the back of his works, as if the colours were catalogued components of an optical experiment.
In an article about the artist, published in , Elaine de Kooning concluded that however impersonal his paintings might at first appear, not one of them "could have been painted by any one but Josef Albers himself. Although Albers prioritized teaching his students principles of color interaction, he was admired by many of his students for instilling a general approach to all materials and means of engaging it in design.
The Josef Albers papers, documents from to , were donated by the artist to the Smithsonian Institution 's Archives of American Art in and In nearly five years before his death , Albers founded the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,  a nonprofit organization he hoped would further "the revelation and evocation of vision through art.
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 executive director of the foundation is Nicholas Fox Weber. In , one year after the auction house, Sotheby's , had bought the Andre Emmerich Gallery , the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the main beneficiary of the estates of both artists, did not renew its three-year contract with the gallery.
Joseph Albers' book Interaction of Color continues to be influential despite criticisms that arose following his death. In , Alan Lee attempted to refute Albers' general claims about colour experience that colour deceives continually and to posit that Albers' system of perceptual education was fundamentally misleading.
Lee examined four topics in Albers' account of colour critically: additive and subtractive colour mixture; the tonal relations of colours; the Weber-Fechner Law ; and simultaneous contrast. In each case Lee suggested that Albers made fundamental errors with serious consequences for his claims about colour and his pedagogical method.
Lee suggested that Albers' belief in the importance of colour deception was related to a misconception about aesthetic appreciation that it depends upon some kind of confusion about visual perception.
Lee suggested that the scientific colour hypothesis of Edwin H. Land should be considered in lieu of the concepts put forward by Albers. Finally, Lee's called for a reassessment of Albers' art as necessary, following successful challenge to the foundational colour concepts that were the basis of his corpus.
Dorothea Jameson has challenged Lee's criticism of Albers, arguing that Albers' approach toward painting and pedagody emphasized artists' experiences in the handling and mixing of pigments, which often have different results than predicted by color theory experiments with projected light or spinning color disks.
Furthermore, Jameson explains that Lee's own understanding of additive and subtractive color mixtures is flawed. Several paintings in his series "Homage to the Square" have outsold their estimates. Archives of American Art collection:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Josef Albers. Bottrop , Westphalia , Germany. New Haven, Connecticut. Jackson painter Robert L. Levers, Jr. The New York Times. March 26, Retrieved March 21, New York Times: Art Review.
New York Times: Obituaries. Archived from the original on March 8, Retrieved April 22, Retrieved February 9, Tate Etc.
Retrieved August 11, Retrieved April 7, Martin County Times. November 9, Retrieved May 14, The Brooklyn Rail. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 6, London: The Tate Gallery. Art Journal.
Josef Albers, in front of one of his 'Homage to the Square' paintings. Abstract painting , study of color. Geometric abstraction. Wikiquote has quotations related to: Joseph Albers.
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