Josef Albers - Exhibition view, 2004 © Galería Elvira González

Josef Albers

Josef Albers photograph Arnold Newman 1948

Josef Albers, 1948. © Arnold Newman

Bottrop, Germany, 1888 – New Haven, USA, 1976

To distribute material possessions is to divide them, to distribute spiritual possessions is to multiply them.

Josef Albers was born in Germany in 1888. In 1920 he started his studies at the Bauhaus School, in Weimar. Bauhaus was considered the pioneering school for interdisciplinary education in art, architecture and design. Albers took part of the Special Program, where he studied in depth the “contrast effects” of form, texture and, most importantly, colour. Five years later, Albers was working at the Bauhaus teaching alongside artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer.

In the United States he began a process of experimentation with the optical effects of colour, which resulted in his well-known series of paintings Homage to the Square. Albers focused in demonstrating that there is not a single perception of colour. This series included over a thousand works; paintings, drawings, prints and tapestries executed over a period of 25 years. His colour studies were accompanied with the publication in 1963 of the influential book Interaction of Colour. This publication provided the most comprehensive analysis of the function and perception of colour to date, and deeply influenced artistic education practice, especially Color Field painting and Minimalism in the 20th Century.

Albers had his first exhibition in 1919 at Galerie Goltz, in Munich, and in 1935 in the United States at Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover. Massachusetts. In 1936 he showed his work for the first time individually in Manhattan, at the New Art Circle of J. B. Neuman. He also participated in Documenta I (1955) and Documenta IV (1968), Kassel. Since then, his work has been exhibited all over the world. In 1971 he was the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Today, his work is part of major public collections around the world.

Josef Albers died in New Haven, Connecticut, on March 25, 1976.