Josef Albers (1888-1976) is considered one of the most influential abstract painters of the twentieth century, as well as an important designer and educator noted for his rigorously experimental approach to spatial relationships and color theory. He was born in Bottrop, Germany, and studied briefly at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich, in 1919 before becoming a student at the Bauhaus in 1920. In 1922, Josef Albers joined the school’s faculty, first in the glass workshop, and, from 1923, teaching design in the legendary Bauhaus Preliminary Course.
In 1933, he and Anni Albers emigrated to North Carolina, and he began to show his work extensively within the United States, including solo exhibitions at the Addison Museum of American Art, Andover (1935); J.B. Neumann’s New Art Circle, New York (1936, 1938); The Germanic Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge (1936); the Katharine Kuh Gallery, Chicago (1937); the San Francisco Museum of Art (1940); and the Nierendorf Gallery, New York (1941).
In 1949, he developed studies for what would become his seminal Homage to the Square series, which he continued to elaborate until his death in 1976. This body of work was featured in a major exhibition organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (by Kynaston McShine) in 1963 that traveled to 11 venues in the United States and 11 venues in Latin America. Josef Albers retired from teaching in 1958, prior to the publication of his important Interaction of Color (1963), a treatise on color studies and an essential handbook for artists and teachers. Published in 12 languages and in numerous editions (and reissued in an expanded format in 2013), the volume comprises a guide to how colors affect one another. Following numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, as well as his participation in documenta I (1955) and documenta IV (1968), he became the first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with his career-spanning retrospective there in 1971.
More recent exhibitions include Painting on Paper: Josef Albers in America, which originated at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, in 2010 (traveled to Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat, Bottrop, Germany; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Kunstmuseum Basel; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Centro de Arte Moderna, Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; and The Morgan Library and Museum, New York); and Josef Albers: Mimimal Means, Maximum Effect, at the Fundación Juan March, Madrid, in 2014 (traveled to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway).