Painter, commercial artist, designer, art teacher, art theorist, photographer and college professor
The German-American painter, art theorist and teacher Josef Albers was born in Bottrop in 1888. He began studying at the Bauhaus in 1920, and taught there from 1923. His stained glass and designs for furniture and utilitarian objects from his Bauhaus period marked a first high point in his activity as a designer. After the Bauhaus was closed by the National Socialists in 1933, Albers emigrated to the United States, where he taught at Black Mountain College in Ashville, North Carolina, from 1933 to 1949 and at Yale starting in 1950. In both theory and practice he worked intensively with colour theory. In his well-known series Homage to the Square, which he began in 1950, he studied the influence of one colour on the next. He coined the term “perceptual painting” – an art that explores the limitations to our perception. Among his pupils were Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg. Albers received countless awards during his career, and was awarded an honorary doctorate no fewer than fourteen times. Albers’s theoretical writings are important for American painting, especially Op Art, Colour Field Painting and New Abstraction. He died in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1976.