Josef Albers was one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists, teachers, and theorists of art. Alongside teaching at the Bauhaus school in Germany and later at Black Mountain College and Yale University in the United States, he created seminal work in diverse mediums from painting and printmaking to furniture design and stained glass. His lifelong explorations into form, vision, and the processes of making art led to his ground-breaking Homage to the Square paintings and confirmed his reputation as a leading proponent of abstraction.
This publication considers Albers’s early development as an artist, beginning with the pre-Bauhaus years when he worked as an elementary-school teacher in his native Bottrop in north-west Germany, while sketching the landscape and architecture of his home town and studying courses in art by night. Focusing on his prints and other works on paper, the book reveals not only the unappreciated naturalistic origins of his art, but also his ongoing interest in producing organic, surrealistic forms alongside the geometric abstraction for which he is best known. It presents dozens of prints, paintings, and drawings from the first half of his career, as well as previously unseen photographs of the artist at work and on research trips to the ancient sites of Mexico where he found important sources of inspiration for his art and theories. With texts by two recognized Albers scholars, this volume offers a fresh and surprising view of a celebrated pioneer of modernism.