WLS XIV, from White Line Squares (Series II), 1966

lithograph in colors
23 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches (framed)



Josef Albers was among the leading pioneers of twentieth-century modernism. He was an influential teacher, writer, painter, and color theorist—now best known for the Homages to the Square he painted between 1950 and 1976 and for his innovative 1963 publication Interaction of Color. In 1920, Albers enrolled as a student at the Bauhaus, a new teaching institution which transformed modern design and emphasized the connection between artist, architects and craftspeople.

Once he was at the Bauhaus, he met his wife, Anni, also an artist, and started to make glass assemblages, sandblasted glass constructions, and large stained-glass windows for houses and buildings. He also designed furniture, household objects, and an alphabet. In 1925, 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 Bauhaus life with flair. By 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 than comply with the Third Reich and reopen adhering to its rules and regulations.

In 1933, Josef was asked to make the visual arts the center of the curriculum at the newly established Black Mountain College in North Carolina. He remained at Black Mountain until 1949, continuing his exploration of a range of printmaking techniques, took off as an abstract painter, made collages of autumn leaves, kept writing, became an ever more influential teacher and wrote about art and education. Meanwhile, he and his wife made frequent trips to Mexico, a country that captivated their imagination and had a strong effect on both of their art. They often said that, “In Mexico, art is everywhere”: this was their ideal for human life.

In 1950, the Alberses moved to Connecticut. From 1950 to 1958, Josef Albers was chairman of the Department of Design at the Yale University School of Art. There, and as guest teacher at art schools throughout North and South America and in Europe, he trained a whole new generation of art teachers. He also continued to write, paint, and make prints. In 1971, he was the first living artist ever to be honored with a solo retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the time of his death in New Haven, Connecticut in 1976, he was still working on his Homages to the Square and his Structural Constellations, deceptively simple compositions in which straight lines create illusory forms, and which became the basis of prints, drawings, and large wall reliefs on public buildings all over the world.


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