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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
$4,085
Styles
Materials
Josef Albers Study for Homage to the Square Limited Edition Ceramic Platter 1999
By Josef Albers
Located in Studio City, CA
German-born artist Josef Albers wonderfully designed Homage to the Square, four glazed Italian porcelain ceramic platters, chargers, plates, each hallmarked/stamped on verso, from a ...
Category

20th Century Italian Modern Josef Albers

Materials

Ceramic

Josef Albers Abstract Lithographs from Interaction of Color
By Josef Albers
Located in Atlanta, GA
Pair of abstract purple color lithographs by Joseph Albers from the "Interaction of Color" portfolio, folder number X-1, circa 1960s. The price noted below is for the pair of framed ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Josef Albers

Materials

Glass, Wood, Paper

Josef Albers from Formulation, Articulation
By Josef Albers
Located in Stamford, CT
Josef Albers from formulation: Articulation, 1972. Silkscreen prints, folio II/ folder 10. Floated in 12-karat white gold gilt frame using all acid free archival materials. #176 of 1...
Category

1970s American Modern Vintage Josef Albers

Materials

Paper

  • Josef Albers from Formulation, Articulation
  • Josef Albers from Formulation, Articulation
  • Josef Albers from Formulation, Articulation
  • Josef Albers from Formulation, Articulation
H 16.75 in. W 22.5 in. D 2 in.
Josef Albers Abstract Lithographs from Interaction of Color
By Josef Albers
Located in Atlanta, GA
Josef Albers abstract lithographs from folder XI-1, interaction of color, circa 1960s. updated
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Josef Albers

Materials

Glass, Wood, Paper

Josef Albers Homage to the Square Silk Screen Diptych
By Josef Albers
Located in Chicago, IL
Josef Albers Formulations - Articulations I & II Edition 974/ 1000 1972 screenprint on paper Embossed with Josef Albers initials, portfolio and folder number. This work is publish...
Category

1970s American Modern Vintage Josef Albers

Materials

Paper

Josef Albers "Formulation : Articulation" Portfolio II, Folder 17
By Josef Albers
Located in Chicago, IL
JOSEF ALBERS (1888 – 1976) "Formulation : Articulation" Portfolio II, Folder 17 Screen-printed geometric composition printed by Ives Stillman, Inc., New Haven, CT. From the set of 12...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Josef Albers

Materials

Paper

"Homage to the Square" New Gate Tapestry by Josef Albers
By Josef Albers
Located in Jersey City, NJ
Produced in association with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Tapestry (made-to-order) Adapted from the painting: Study for Homage to the Square: Black Setting Handwoven Aubus...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary British Bauhaus Josef Albers

Materials

Wool

Josef Albers Abstract Grey Lithographs from Interaction of Color
By Josef Albers
Located in Atlanta, GA
Pair of abstract grey lithographs by Joseph Albers from the "Interaction of Color" portfolio, circa 1960s. The price noted below is for the pair of framed works.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Josef Albers

Materials

Glass, Wood, Paper

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Josef Albers Sellers

Phyllis Lucas Gallery - Old Print Center
4.8
Heather James Fine Art
4.9
Sager Reeves Gallery
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Terri Kahan Fine Art
4.8
GREGG SHIENBAUM FINE ART
5.0
Madelyn Jordon Fine Art
5.0

Josef Albers furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Josef Albers furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are frequently made of paper and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our Josef Albers collection of furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. 81 vintage editions of these items are in stock, while there are 5 modern editions to choose from as well. Many of Josef Albers' original furniture was created in the mid-century modern style in the United States during the 20th century. If you are looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Peter Max. The prices for Josef Albers furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $595 and tops out at $9,600, while pieces like these can sell for $1,950 on average.

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