A Finding Aid to the Josef Albers Papers, 1929-1970, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Table of Contents:
- Biographical Information
- Overview of the Collection
- How to Use the Collection
- Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Josef Albers (1888-1976) of Dessau, Germany, Black Mountain, North Carolina, and New Haven, Connecticut, was a painter, printmaker, and art teacher advocating a disciplined approach to composition, form, and color.
Josef Albers was born on March 19, 1888 in Bottrop, Westphalia, Germany, the only child of Lorenz Albers, a housepainter, and Magdelena (Schumacher) Albers. He attended the Pr�paranden-Schule in Langenhorst from 1902 to 1905 and then the teachers college in B�ren, graduating in 1908. He became an instructor in several Westphalian primary schools.
Albers studied at the Royal Art School in Berlin, the Arts and Crafts School (Folkwang School) in Essen, and at the Art Academy in Munich under Franz Stuck before enrolling at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1920. In 1923, he became an instructor and in 1925, when the school was transplanted to Dessau, he became a Bauhausmeister, teaching his fundamental design course. He remained in that position in Dessau and Berlin until 1933, when under pressure from National Socialism, the school was shut down. In that year, Albers emigrated to the United States, becoming a professor of painting at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
In 1949, Albers moved to Yale University where he taught in the Department of Design and served as Chairman of the Art Department. Following his retirement in 1960, Albers continued to live in New Haven with his wife, textile artist Anni Albers.
Albers served as a guest teacher in Ulm, Germany, and in many colleges and art schools in the United States, Mexico, and South America. He was also an author of poems and books concerning art theory.
Josef Albers died on March 25, 1976 in New Haven, Connecticut.
Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, printmaker, and art teacher Josef Albers date from 1929 to 1970 and measure 1.5 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials, writings, a recorded lecture, and photographs. The bulk of the collection consists of printed materials.
Biographical material consists of a curriculum vitae, bibliographic lists, a transcript of a "Yale Reports" radio interview in which Albers discusses art as a port of general education, and a photocopy of a letter from Eugene W. Leake of the Maryland Institute discussing a work by Albers in the Baltimore Museum.
Writings and Lectures are primarily photocopies of poems and typescripts by Albers concerning his theories on art, as well as an sound tape reel recording of Albers delivering a lecture at Yale University. There are also photocopied typescripts about Albers written by others including a typescript "Josef Albers" by Hans Jean Arp.
Printed material primarily consists of clippings and exhibition announcements and catalogs, some of which are annotated by Albers. There are also two exhibition catalogs for Anni Albers, press releases, a copy of poetry publication Origin 8, 2 books by Albers, Embossed Linear Compositions and Josef Albers: Poems and Drawings, the book American Abstract Artists, 1936-1966, and miscellaneous brochures.
Photographs consist of two copies of the same image of Josef Albers pin registering one of his prints with Tamarind artisan Ken Tyler.
Arrangement and Series Description
The collection is arranged as 4 series.
- Series 1: Biographical Material, 1957-1970 (3 folders; Box 1)
- Series 2: Writings and Lecture, 1936-1967 (5 folders; Box 1)
- Series 3: Printed Material, 1929-1969 (1.3 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)
- Series 4: Photographs, circa 1968 (1 folder; Box 2)
Subjects and Names
This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:
- Albers, Anni
- Arp, Jean, 1887-1966
- Baltimore Museum of Art.
- Leake, Eugene, 1911-
- Maryland Institute, College of Art.
- Tyler, Kenneth E.
- Art teachers
- Art--Study and teaching
- Sound recordings
The Josef Albers papers were donated by the artist in 1969 and 1970. A small collection of additional Albers papers and an audio recording of a lecture with an unknown provenance were integrated.
Separated and Related Materials
Also found in the Archives is an oral history interview with Albers conducted by Sevim Fesci in 1968, and a collection of letters from Albers to J. B. Naumann that was loaned to the Archives by the Brooklyn Museum for microfilming and is available on microfilm reel 911.
How the Collection was Processed
Portions of the collection were microfilmed to reels N69-139 - N69-140, N70-48, and 2786. All accretions and two small small collections with an unknown provenance were merged and processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 2010. The collection was processed for digitization by Megan Bean and digitized in 2016. Funding for the digitization of the collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
How to Use the Collection
Restrictions on Use
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Ownership & Literary Rights
The Josef Albers papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include blank pages and duplicates. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages scanned.
How to Cite this Collection
Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Biographical Material, 1957-1970
3 Folders; Box 1
Biographical material consists of a curriculum vitae, bibliographic lists, a transcript of a radio interview, and a photocopy of a letter from Eugene W. Leake of the Maryland Institute.
The series has been scanned in its entirety.
Biographical materials are arranged by material type.
|1||1||Curriculum Vitae and Bibliography, 1966-1970|
|1||2||Interview Transcript, 1957|
|1||3||Letter from Eugene W. Leake, 1967|
Writings and Lecture, 1936-1967
5 Folders; Box 1
Writings consist of photocopies of writings by Josef Albers and about Albers by others. There is also a recording on 1 sound tape reel of Albers delivering a lecture at Yale University.
The series has been scanned in its entirety and the sound recording has been digitized for research access.
Writings are arranged chronologically.
|1||4||Writings by Josef Albers, circa 1936-1966|
Albers Delivering a Lecture at Yale University, circa 1962
|1||6||Photocopy of Typescript, "Josef Albers" by Hans Jean Arp, circa 1962|
|1||7||Typescript, "Joseph Albers' Homage to the Square" by Juan Acha, 1964|
|1||8||Typescript, "Reflexions sur les Graphismes de Josef Albers" by Robert Le Ricolais, 1967|
Printed Material, 1929-1969
1.3 Linear feet; Boxes 1-3
Printed material consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Josef Albers, exhibition catalogs for Anni Albers, press releases, publications and books by and about Albers, and miscellaneous brochures.
The series has been partially scanned. Duplicates, blank versoes, and blank pages have not been scanned. In some cases, printed materials have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages scanned.
Printed materials are arranged by material type and chronologically.
|3||1||Oversized Clippings scanned with Box 1, Folders 12-16, 21-22, and 25-26, 1956-1968|
|3||2||Oversized Book scanned with Box 2, Folder 6, 1962|
Photographs, circa 1968
1 Folder; Box 2
Photographs are of Josef Albers pin registering one of his prints with Tamarind artisan Ken Tyler.
The series has been scanned in its entirety.
|2||11||Photographs of Albers and Ken Tyler, circa 1968|