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Josef Albers

American, German, 1888-1976

The German-born American painter, writer, and educator Josef Albers was a pioneer of 20th century modernism, and an innovative practitioner of color theory. With his wife, the textile artist and printmaker Anni Albers (1899–1994), he shaped the development of a generation of American artists and designers through his teaching at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and later at Yale University School of Art, where he was the chairman of the department of design from 1950–1958. Albers is widely known for his series of prints and paintings "Homages to the Square," which he created between 1950 and 1975. His influential volume on color theory The Interaction of Color was published in 1963.

Albers was born in Bottrop, Germany, and as a young man he studied art education, earning certification from the Königliche Kunstschule in Berlin in 1915. He entered the legendary Bauhaus school in Weimar in 1920. The Bauhaus had been established by Walter Gropius in 1919, in the immediate aftermath of World War I, with the hope that its innovative curriculum would foster connections between architecture, art, and traditional crafts. In 1923 Albers began teaching the Vorkurs, the introductory class in which new students learned to work with each of the key artists’ materials, along with color theory, composition, construction and design.

Albers was a polymath, and the multidisciplinary environment of the Bauhaus was fertile ground for his artistic ambitions. When the school moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1925, he became a full professor, and in addition to glass and metal, he designed typefaces and furniture. While at the Bauhaus, Albers drew inspiration from the work of his colleagues, the color theorist Johannes Itten, and the painter, photographer, and designer László Moholy-Nagy, with whom he co-taught the Vorkurs.

In 1933, the Bauhaus was shut down due to pressure from the Nazi Party, which perceived the school as being sympathetic to communist intellectuals. As Albers’ wife Anni was Jewish, the couple resolved to leave Germany, and settled in rural North Carolina. The architect Philip Johnson helped make arrangements for Albers to join the faculty of Black Mountain College as the head of the painting program, where he remained until 1949. While at Black Mountain, both Josef and Anni Albers became influential mentors to American artists including Ruth Asawa, Cy Twombly, and Robert Rauschenberg, while working alongside fellow professors Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and William de Kooning.

In 1950, Albers joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Art where he would head the newly established Department of Design until his retirement in 1958. In the 1950s, the Alberses began taking trips to Mexico, where the colors and forms of the local art and architecture inspired both artists.

In 1971, Albers became the first living artist whose work was the subject of a solo retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though they worked in different mediums, Josef and Anni Albers’ work shares a fascination with color and geometry. Josef Albers’ compositions from the "Homages to the Square" series, such as Formulation: Articulation Portfolio II Folder 28 (B), from 1972, give deceptively simple shapes a novel vibrance as colors play off of one another. The hues in Articulation Portfolio II Folder 28 (B) work in concert to give the flat surface the distinct appearance of a tunnel or other three-dimensional space; while the form on the left appears to move towards the viewer, the form on the right seems to lead directly into the canvas. Similarly, Anni Albers’ designs for textiles use graphic design to lend a sense of dynamism to flat works. Her Study for Unexecuted Wall Hanging (Bauhaus), from 1984 is a Mondrian-like pattern for a weaving in which different colors alternately recede and advance into the foreground, giving the image a sense of complexity and uncanny depth.

Josef Albers also created works of public art, including a delicate, geometric gold leaf mural called Two Structural Constellations for the lobby of the Corning Glass building in New York City in 1959. He designed a work called Two Portals for the lobby of the Time & Life Building in 1961, in which which and brown bands move towards two square panels made of bronze. Walter Gropius invited Albers to create a piece for the Pan Am Building, which he was designing with the architectural firm of Emery Roth & Sons. Albers reworked an existing glass piece from his Bauhaus days called City, and, fittingly, renamed it Manhattan.

Find a collection of authentic Josef Albers art on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$4,170
Styles
Materials
Formulation : Articulation, Portfolio I Folder 8
By Josef Albers
Located in New York, NY
Silkscreen by Josef Albers from his classic work, Formulation : Articulation, published by Harry N. Abrams, 1972, and printed by Ives - Sillman. The individual images are unsigne...
Category

1970s Abstract Josef Albers

Materials

Screen

Josef Albers vinyl record art
By Josef Albers
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Josef Albers Album Art circa early 1960s: Vinyl record cover (containing its original record) brilliantly illustrated by Josef Albers in the early 1960s. Looks fantastic framed. Off...
Category

Mid-20th Century Modern Josef Albers

Materials

Offset

Arrived
By Josef Albers
Located in Saint Augustine, FL
An original signed screenprint on Rives BFK paper by German-American artist Josef Albers (1888-1976) titled "Arrived", 1965. Hand pencil signed and dated by Albers lower right, and t...
Category

1960s Abstract Geometric Josef Albers

Materials

Screen

  • Arrived
  • Arrived
  • Arrived
  • Arrived
H 17 in. W 17 in.
untitled from Formulation: Articulation
By Josef Albers
Located in Long Island City, NY
From the portfolio “Formulation: Articulation” created by Josef Albers in 1972. This monumental series consists of 127 original silkscreens that are a definitive survey of the artist...
Category

1970s Op Art Josef Albers

Materials

Screen

Variant VII from Ten Variants
By Josef Albers
Located in New York, NY
Screenprint on Rives BFK paper, with full margins, portfolio 212 of edition of 300 published by Ives-Sillman, Inc., New Haven with their blind stamp in lower right corner of margin. ...
Category

1960s Abstract Josef Albers

Materials

Lithograph

Formulation : Articulation Portfolio II Folder 9 (B)
By Josef Albers
Located in New York, NY
Silkscreen by Josef Albers from his classic work, "Articulation : Formulation," published by Harry N. Abrams, 1972, and printed by Ives - Stillman. The individual images are unsigned...
Category

1970s Abstract Josef Albers

Materials

Screen

Formulation : Articulation, Portfolio I, Folder 26, Matted
By Josef Albers
Located in New York, NY
Silkscreen by Josef Albers from his classic work, "Articulation : Formulation," published by Harry N. Abrams, 1972, and printed by Ives - Stillman. The individual images are unsigned...
Category

1970s Contemporary Josef Albers

Materials

Screen

Formulation : Articulation, Portfolio I Folder 28 (A)
By Josef Albers
Located in New York, NY
Silkscreen by Josef Albers from his classic work, "Articulation : Formulation," published by Harry N. Abrams, 1972, and printed by Ives - Stillman. The individual images are unsigned...
Category

1970s Abstract Josef Albers

Materials

Screen

Browse all Art from Josef Albers
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Galleries Featuring Josef Albers

Phyllis Lucas Gallery - Old Print Center
4.8
Heather James Fine Art
4.9
Sager Reeves Gallery
No Reviews Yet
Terri Kahan Fine Art
4.8
GREGG SHIENBAUM FINE ART
5.0
Madelyn Jordon Fine Art
5.0

Josef Albers art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Josef Albers art available for sale. If you're looking for a way to add color to a neutral corner of your living room or bedroom, you can find work that includes elements of orange, red, blue and other colors. You can also browse art by medium to find Josef Albers in offset print, lithograph, screen print and more. Much of this artist's original work was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the abstract style. Not every interior allows for large Josef Albers art, so small editions measuring 9.630000114440918 inches across are available. Customers interested in this artist might also find the work of Arthur Boden, Larry Zox and Gisela Beker. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $180 and tops out at $675,000, while the average work can sell for $1,617. Josef Albers art prices can vary depending upon medium, time period and other attributes.

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