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Josef Albers (American, 1888-1976)


Also known as:  Albers, Joseph

Birth Place: Bottrop (Münster district, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)

Josef Albers was an artist known for his abstract paintings and his studies of color. He is most famous for his series called Homage to the Square, which consists of over a thousand works all featuring nested squares in different colors.

Albers got his start as an art teacher in Berlin and later became a printmaker, then a stained glass maker before going to art school. Albers studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany under Max Doerner and Franz Stuck. He then taught introduction to handicrafts at the Bauhaus school. In 1933, Albers moved to the United States due to the rising pressure of the Nazi regime. Albers became head of the painting program at Black Mountain College and stayed there until 1949. He went on to lead the department of design at Yale University. He was elected in 1973 as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Josef Albers worked in New Haven, Connecticut where he lived with his wife Anni Albers, until he died in 1976.

Josef Albers’ work is considered to be a transition between traditional European art with influences from the Constructivists and Bauhaus school and the new American art, which he influenced heavily in the 1950s and 60s. Hard-edge abstract painters mimicked his use of intense colors and patterns, and Op and conceptual artists were inspired by his interest in perception. Many of Josef Albers’ works can be seen on permanent display in the Pace Gallery in New York City, the Alan Cristea Gallery in London, the Saatchi Gallery in London, and the Josef Albers Museum in his birthplace Bottrop, Germany.

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