|Birth Day:||March 19, 1888|
|Death Date:||Mar 25, 1976 (age 88)|
|Birth Place:||Bottrop, Germany|
As per our current Database, Josef Albers died on Mar 25, 1976 (age 88).
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He moved from Germany to the United States in the early 1930s because of the rise of the Nazis and taught art and design at North Carolina's Black Mountain College.
Albers was born into a Roman Catholic family of craftsmen in Bottrop, Westphalia, Germany in 1888. His father, Lorenzo Albers, was variously a housepainter, carpenter, and handyman. His mother came from a family of blacksmiths. His childhood included practical training in engraving glass, plumbing, and wiring, giving Josef versitility and lifelong confidence in the handling and manipulation of diverse materials. He worked from 1908 to 1913 as a schoolteacher in his home town; he also trained as an art teacher at Königliche Kunstschule in Berlin, Germany, from 1913 to 1915. From 1916 to 1919 he began his work as a printmaker at the Kunstgewerbschule in Essen, where he learnt stained-glass making with Dutch artist Johan Thorn Prikker. In 1918 he received his first public commission, Rosa mystica ora pro nobis, a stained-glass window for a church in Essen. In 1919 he moved to Munich, Germany, to study at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Kunst, where he was a pupil of Max Doerner and Franz Stuck.
Albers enrolled as a student in the preliminary course (vorkurs) of Johannes Itten at the Weimar Bauhaus in 1920. Although Albers had studied painting, it was as a maker of stained glass that he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus in 1922, approaching his chosen medium 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 'Werklehre' of the department of design to introduce newcomers to the principles of handicrafts, because Albers came from that background and had appropriate practice and knowledge.
In 1925, the year the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, Albers was promoted to professor. At this time, he married Anni Albers (née Fleischmann) who was a student at the institution. His work in Dessau included designing furniture and working with glass. As a younger instructor, he was teaching at the Bauhaus among established artists who included Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. The so-called "form master" Klee taught the formal aspects in the glass workshops where Albers was the "crafts master"; they cooperated for several years.
With the closure of the Bauhaus under Nazi pressure in 1933 the artists dispersed, most leaving the country. Albers emigrated to the United States. The architect Philip Johnson, then a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, arranged for Albers to be offered a job as head of a new art school, Black Mountain College, in North Carolina. In November 1933, he joined the faculty of the college where he was the head of the painting program until 1949.
Accomplished as a designer, photographer, typographer, printmaker, and poet, Albers is best remembered for his work as an abstract painter and theorist. He favored a very disciplined approach to composition, especially in the hundreds of paintings and prints that make up the series Homage to the Square. In this rigorous series, begun in 1949, Albers explored chromatic interactions with nested squares. Usually painting on Masonite, he used a palette knife with oil colors and often recorded the colors he used on the back of his works. Each painting consists of either three or four squares of solid planes of color nested within one another, in one of four different arrangements and in square formats ranging from 406×406 mm to 1.22×1.22 m.
In 1950, Albers left Black Mountain to head the department of design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. While at Yale, Albers worked to expand the nascent graphic design program (then called "graphic arts"), hiring designers Alvin Eisenman, Herbert Matter, and Alvin Lustig. Albers worked at Yale until he retired from teaching in 1958. At Yale, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Eva Hesse, Neil Welliver, and Jane Davis Doggett were notable students.
In an article about the artist, published in 1950, Elaine de Kooning concluded that however impersonal his paintings might at first appear, not one of them "could have been painted by any one but Josef Albers himself.".
In 1959, a gold-leaf mural by Albers, Two Structural Constellations was engraved in the lobby of the Corning Glass Building in Manhattan. For the entrance of the Time & Life Building lobby, he created Two Portals (1961), a 42-feet by 14-feet mural of alternating glass bands in white and brown that recede into two bronze centers to create an illusion of depth. In the 1960s, Walter Gropius, who was designing the Pan Am Building with Emery Roth & Sons and Pietro Belluschi, commissioned Albers to make a mural. The artist reworked City, a sandblasted glass construction that he had designed in 1929 at the Bauhaus, and renamed it Manhattan. The giant abstract mural of black, white, and red strips arranged in interwoven columns stood 28-feet high and 55-feet wide and was installed in the lobby of the building; it was removed during a lobby redesign around 2000. Before he died in 1976, Albers left exact specifications of the work so that it could easily be replicated; in 2019, it was replicated and reinstalled in its original place in the Pan Am building, now renamed MetLife. In 1967, his painted mural Growth (1965) as well as Loggia Wall (1965), a brick relief, were installed on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Other architectural works include Gemini (1972), a stainless steel relief for the Grand Avenue National Bank lobby in Kansas City, Missouri, and Reclining Figure (1972), a mosaic mural for the Celanese Building in Manhattan destroyed in 1980. At the invitation of a former student, the architect Harry Seidler, Albers designed the mural Wrestling (1976) for Seidler's Mutual Life Center in Sydney.
In 1962, as a fellow at Yale, he received a grant from the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies of Fine Arts for an exhibit and lecture on his work. Albers also collaborated with Yale professor and architect King-lui Wu in creating decorative designs for some of Wu's projects. Among these were distinctive geometric fireplaces for the Rouse (1954) and DuPont (1959) houses, the façade of Manuscript Society, one of Yale's secret senior groups (1962), and a design for the Mt. Bethel Baptist Church (1973). Also, at this time he worked on his structural constellation pieces.
In 1963, Albers published Interaction of Color, which is a record of an experiential way of studying and teaching color. He asserted that color "is almost never seen as it really is" and that "color deceives continually", and he suggested that color is best studied via experience, underpinned by experimentation and observation. The very rare first edition has a limited printing of only 2,000 copies and contained 150 silk screen plates. This work has since been republished, and is now available as an iPad App.
The Josef Albers papers, documents from 1929 to 1970, were donated by the artist to the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art in 1969 and 1970. In 1971 (nearly five years before his death), Albers founded the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a nonprofit organization he hoped would further "the revelation and evocation of vision through art". Today, this organization not only serves as the office for the estates of both Josef Albers and his wife Anni Albers, but also supports exhibitions and publications focused on the works of both Albers. The official foundation building is located in Bethany, Connecticut, and "includes a central research and archival storage center to accommodate the Foundation's art collections, library and archives, and offices, as well as residence studios for visiting artists."
Also during this time, he created the abstract album covers of band leader Enoch Light's Command LP records. His album cover for Terry Snyder and the All Stars 1959 album, Persuasive Percussion, shows a tightly packed grid or lattice of small black disks from which a few wander up and out as if stray molecules of some light gas. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973. Albers continued to paint and write, staying in New Haven with his wife, textile artist Anni Albers, until his death in 1976.
Joseph Albers' book Interaction of Color continues to be influential despite criticisms that arose following his death. In 1981, Alan Lee attempted to refute Albers' general claims about colour experience (that colour deceives continually) and to posit that Albers' system of perceptual education was fundamentally misleading.
In 1997, one year after the auction house, Sotheby's, had bought the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the main beneficiary of the estates of both artists, did not renew its three-year contract with the gallery. Currently, the foundation is represented by David Zwirner in New York, Waddington Custot in London, and the Alan Cristea Gallery in London, and now, a large part of his estate is held by the Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop, Germany, where he was born. Krakow Witkin Gallery in Boston also holds a selection of Albers' works.
Several paintings in his series Homage to the Square have outsold their estimates. Homage to the Square: Joy (1964) sold for $1.5 million, nearly double its estimate, during a 2007 sale at Sotheby's. More recently, in 2015, Study for Homage to the Square, R-III E.B. also sold for around twice the estimated £350,000–450,000, eventually reaching $1.22 million at auction.
Currently, Josef Albers is 134 years, 4 months and 28 days old. Josef Albers will celebrate 135th birthday on a Sunday 19th of March 2023.
Find out about Josef Albers birthday activities in timeline view here.