Josef Albers, Portfolio II Folder 22, 1972 Formulation:Articulation Portfolio, 1972, Unsigned, Screenprint on Mohawk Superfine Bristol, Edition 174/1000, 23 1/2" x 23" Framed Size, 15" x 40" Sheet Size, 13 1/2" x 15" Image Size
Josef Albers was an influential teacher, writer, painter, and color theorist— now best known for the Homage to the Squareseries he painted between 1950 and 1976, and for his innovative 1963 publication, Interaction of Color. Albers was born the in small German town of Bottrop, Westphalia, Germany. He worked from 1908 to 1913 as a schoolteacher in his home town. From 1916 to 1919 he began his work as a printmaker at the Kunstgewerbschule in Essen. In 1918 he received his first public commission, Rosa mystica ora pro nobis, a stained-glass window for a church in Essen. Albers enrolled as a student in the preliminary course of Johannes Itten at the Weimar Bauhaus in 1920. Although Albers had studied painting, it was as a stained glass artist that he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus in 1922, approaching his work as a component of architecture and as a stand-alone art form. The director and founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, asked him in 1923 to teach in the preliminary course of the department of design to introduce newcomers to the principles of handicrafts. He was the first Bauhaus student to be asked to join the faculty and become a master. At the end of the decade he made exceptional photographs and photo-collages, documenting the Bauhaus life. At this time, he married Anni Albers who was a student of Bauhaus and a textile artist. In 1933, when pressure from the Nazis forced the school to shut its doors, Josef Albers had become one of its best known artists and teachers, and was among those who decided to close the school rather comply with the Third Reich. In November of 1933, Josef and Anni Albers were invited to the United States when Josef was asked to make the visual arts the center of the curriculum at the newly established Black Mountain College in North Carolina. They remained at Black Mountain until 1949. Joseph continued his exploration of a range of printmaking techniques, notably in a series of woodcuts and linoleum cuts of 1933-44, and pursued abstract painting in a highly innovative way. During this period he first developed the idea of producing a series of paintings in standard formats but different colors, for example Bent Black and Bent Dark Grey. In 1947 he began a large series of rectangular abstractions entitled Adobes, in which he often used equal quantities of five different colors in a precisely calculated geometric arrangement. It was in these and related works that he first developed a rather mechanical, emotionless technique to achieve highly poetic results. Albers continued to refine and expand his ideas about color. In 1963, he published Interaction of Color which presented his theory that colors were governed by an internal and deceptive logic. Albers also discussed the relativity of color,its ephemera-like quality. It was in 1972 that Formulation: Articulation (all images in which are by Albers) first appeared as a set of prints a decade after his first manifesto. Interaction of Color has been celebrated as one of the most important color theory books of the 20th century and it has since been translated into 8 different languages. Albers continued to paint and write, in New Haven with his wife, Anni Albers, until his death in 1976.