Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) – German painter, designer, theoretician, and teacher

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.47.23 am

Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) was a German painter, designer, theoretician, and teacher. He was born in Bottrop, Westphalia. He was professionally active in Germany and the USA. He was the husband of Anni Albers.

“When I paint, I try to develop visual articulation says, Josef Albers. “I do not think, then, about abstraction and just as little about expression.” Josef Albers aims as an artist to challenge ideas and points of view and even the way we look at the world.

Art, he felt, is seeing, and he believed that his contemporaries had not done an excellent job of this. The reason, he says, is because they have been so individualistic. They have stuck themselves in one dominant style. Instead, Albers believed seeing demanded many presentations of the same forms to test the possibilities of each and the reaction on each of different colours. To prove his point, Albers chose the square series in 1949. He had aimed to prove that the ongoing relationships of colour and light had unlimited possibilities in changing the form and the meaning of art.

Homage to the square

All these works used the same, simple format-a series of three or four superimposed squares. By using resonant, flatly applied colours, Albers changed the square to fit a wide variety of emotions. He does this by revealing the characteristics of colour, how it appears to change in different lights, how two colours may seem to be three and three colours two. He illuminates with the juxtaposition of colours how he can make the central square leap out or drawback.

“They are juxtaposed for various and changing visual effects,” Albers says.

“They are to challenge and echo each other. Such colour deceptions prove that colour is changing continually, with changing light shape and placement.

Background

Albers was born in 1888 in Bottrop, Germany; he received his early education in Berlin, Essen and Munich. When he was only 20, he first felt the influence of the artist Cezanne and Matisse. At the age of 32, he went to Weimar to enrol in the famous Bauhaus. He became a teacher and worked with such creative geniuses as Kandinsky, Klee, Gropius and Feininger.

The idea that technical skill is necessary appealed to Albers. For the first time, he created a course in basic design that would train artist-craftsman for the machine art of the new industrial society. When the Bauhaus fell out of favour with the fascist government of Germany, Albers and his wife, Annie, herself a textile and fabric designer, came to The United States and accepted teaching positions at the progressive Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was in his last year where he began his homage to the square. He then went to Yale University to become the chairman of the Department of Art. He retired from Yale in 1958.

Albers took exception to a highly influential artist, Piet Mondrian. Mondrian, he believed, had carried non-objective expressionism to its logical extremes. With his geometric use of squares, rectangles and primary colours, using these forms as ends in themselves.

csm_Lempertz-1091-505-Contemporary-Art-Josef-Albers-Homage-to-the-Square_f430d8a4d9
download

You may also be interested in

Otto Zapf German product and furniture designer – Encyclopedia of Design

Otto Zapf has created an essential system of furniture designs. Including the Zapf Office System by Knoll and 7500 workstations by Pacific Telesis. He and Dieter Rams designed their first furniture in the 1960s and 1970s. Otto Zapf arrived in Knoll in 1973. He was a successful product designer in Europe.

Anni Albers (1899 – 1994) German Textile Designer, artist and teacher

Anni Albers was a German Textile Designer, artist and teacher. She was born in Berlin and was the Wife of Josef Albers. 1916-19, she studied under Martin Brandenburg in Berlin. 1919-20, Kunstgewerbeschule, Hamburg; and 1920-22, Bauhaus, Weimar and Dessau, under Georg Muche, Gunta St├Âlzl, and Paul Klee.

Albers: Interaction of Color | Design Masterwork

Interaction of Color is Josef Albers masterwork and is one of the significant works on the nature and use of colour in art. It is indispensable as a guide for artists, instructors, and students.

More on German Designers

  • Klaus Moje (1936 – 2016) German Glass Designer

    Around 1975, Moje began cutting the rods into thin wafers or strips and fusing them in a kiln. The pieces would then be cut again and re-fused to create rhythmic patterns of vibrant colour. In 1976, Moje returned to Hamburg after living in Danzinger Strasse. Read More →

  • Hermann Gretsch (1895 – 1950) designer for Arzberg

    Herman Gretsch in black and white

    Hermann Gretsch was a German architect, engineer and product designer. In the 1930s, Gretsch worked for the Porzellanfabrik Arzberg.Read More →

  • Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) – Universal Typeface – Bauhaus Master

    Universal Typeface - Herbert Bayer

    The universal typeface, 1925, was a geometric alphabet based on bar and circle and was designed by Herbert Bayer (1900) to function efficiently in a technological society. Bayer rejected the “archaic and complicated gothic alphabet” which lingered in the most scientifically advanced society of its time, Germany of the first world war period and the postwar era. Read More →

  • Winold Reiss (1886-1953) German artist and designer

    Winold Reiss Interior

    Influenced by the international modern art movements that had recently swept across Europe, he blended cubism, which used geometric shapes to create abstract images, and fauvism, which favoured the use of bold colours to suggest shapes, with interest in ethnography to create a unique style of portraiture that sought to reveal the subject more thoroughly than the simple rendering of physical features.Read More →

  • Hugo Leven (1874 – 1956) German Sculptor and Metalsmith

    Hugo Leven Metalsmith featured image

    Leven studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule and then at the D├╝sseldorf Art Academy. He worked in his father Louis Leven’s studio for a time, had numerous contacts with French artists who had a strong influence on him, and quickly became known. Engelbert Kayser hired him as the first employee in his studio. From 1895 to 1904, Leven designed numerous models for Kayserzinn; his works had a lasting influence on the Art Nouveau pewter foundry. He also worked for the Kreuter company in Hanau and other companies that manufactured metal, silver and earthenware, such as B. Koch & Bergfeld and WMF.Read More →

  • WMF – W├╝rttembergische Metallwarenfabrik (1853)

    WMF - Wu╠łrttembergische Metallwarenfabrik

    The outbreak of the Second World War created significant difficulties during the early stages of restoration, leading to the closure of the NKA (Contemporary Products Department), but by the early 1950s, the company was back on track. Many of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s WMF creations date from these years. Read More →

  • Michael Boehm (b.1944) German Glassware and Ceramics Designer

    Boehm Glassware featured image

    Boehm joined Rosenthal in 1966. His limited-edition Reticelli range illustrated his interest in Italian glass by incorporating cotton twist threads in the molten glass-like 17th-century Venetian vessels. Read More →

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 ÔÇô 1969) German architect and designer

    Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe featured image

    Between 1905 and 1907, he worked as an apprentice to architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul in Berlin, where he studied wooden furniture design. He created furniture for all of his early homes, including the Werner residence.Read More →

  • Carl Hugo Pott (1906 – 1985) – German Metalworker & Silversmith

    Carl Hugo Pott

    Carl Pott studied design and metallurgy at technical school in Solingen and Forschungsinitut unf Profieramt f├╝r Edelmetalle, Schw├Ąbisch-Gm├╝nd.Read More →

  • The brains and Braun of designer Dieter Rams

    The way Dieter Rams tell it good design boils down to something as simple durability. Okay, not durability alone. A Well-designed piece is so self-explanatory that figuring out how to use it as simple as looking at it. And a design develops from the inside out because it involves not only aesthetics but also function.Read More →

  • Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) – German painter, designer, theoretician, and teacher

    Josef Albers

    Josef Albers believed Art, he felt, is seeing, and he believed that his contemporaries had not done a good job of this.Read More →

  • The Designs that Forged an Icon: 100 Years of Braun

    Braun 100 years

    Braun’s archive can be seen as a sort of manifesto for meticulous design: from screw-shape to ergonomic button placement, nothing is forgotten. Reduced to their logical conclusion, Braun products are unmatched in their timelessness, the only sign of their age being the electronics within.Read More →

  • A look inside the Box: Josef Albers’ ÔÇťFormulation: ArticulationÔÇŁ

    The exhibition is titled after AlbersÔÇÖ last series before his death, and consists of silkscreen prints rather than paintings. Those familiar with AlbersÔÇÖ work will take immediate notice of AlbersÔÇÖ colorful square compositions, as well as a few black and white geometric compositions. Read More →

  • Alfons Bach (1904 – 1999) German Industrial Designer

    Alfons Bach Yellow Sofa

    In New York City, Bach planned the remodelling of Sach’s and the Seneca Textile Building. His work was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in early contemporary industrial art shows. In Stamford, Connecticut, he created his own home in 1938. He oversaw the construction of the Ridgeway Center, one of the country’s earliest shopping malls. In the 1930s, Bach designed tubular steel furniture for the Lloyd Manufacturing Company. Until 1947, they continued to produce his works. These tubular objects are seen to constitute a link between Bauhaus and contemporary design. In 1959, he relocated to Florida. In Delray Beach, he designed the Palm Trail Plaza and the Palm Trail Yacht Club. In 1969, he was the curator of the United States display at the International Industrial Design Exhibition. He created designs for GE, Keystone Silver, Pacific Mills, and Bigelow-Samford. He was the American Designers Institute’s president.Read More →

  • Rasch Brothers German Wallpaper Manufacturer

    Rasch Brothers Wallpapers

    After WWII, the company maintained its progressive edge with the sale of beautiful wallpapers by designers such as Lucienne Day, Salvador Dal, Shinkichi Tajiri, and Bruno Munari. The firm released their Zeitwande (Timewalls) wallpaper line in 1992, which featured designs by Ron Arad, Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, Borek Spek, and Matteo Thun.Read More →

  • Marianne Brandt (1893ÔÇô1983) German painter designer and metalworker

    Marianne Brandt featured image

    The modernist German designer Marianne Brandt was one of the few women associated with the Bauhaus to make her reputation outside the traditional arts and crafts sectors related to women such as textiles, weaving and pottery. Read More →

  • Konstantin Grcic Unveils – CUP Chair For Plank | ­čçę­čç¬ German Design

    CUP Chair For Plank

    For travellers, the benefits of plastic shell suitcases have come to be appreciated. They are extremely light and flexible, yet powerful and good looking. Suitcases made of thin vacuum-formed plastic sheets have completely transformed the product category. As a designer of the furniture, Konstantin Grcic was surprised by this ingenuity and the suitability of the modern chair covers for production and performance. Read More →

  • Peter Raacke (b.1928) German metalworker and designer

    Peter Raacke metalworker

    Hessische Metallwerke commissioned Raacke to produce metal cutlery, kitchen equipment, and cookware, most notably his “Mono-a” line (v-33), with silverware available in stainless steel and sterling silver.Read More →

  • Bruno Paul (1874 – 1968) German architect, cabinetmaker, designer, and teacher

    Table & chair by Paul Bruno featured image

    Bruno Paul (1874 – 1968) was a German architect, cabinetmaker, designer, and teacher. He was born in Seifhennersdorf. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Dresden, from 1886 and painting at the Akademie fur Kunst, Munich, under Paul Hocker and Wilhelm von Diez, from 1894. Read More →

  • Tea and coffee set by Marguerite Friedlander

    She designed the Hallesche Form tea and coffee set for KPM in 1930, which was a huge commercial success, especially with Trude Petri’s gold rings (1931) decor.Read More →

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.