Skip to main content

Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970

Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970

Albers, Josef, 1888-1976

Art teacher, Printmaker, Author

This site provides access to the papers of Josef Albers in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2016, and total 1,039 images.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 1.5 linear feet

Summary: 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/Historical Note

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.

Provenance

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.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Josef Albers Papers, 1929-1970, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.albejose
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Scope and Contents note
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.
Biographical/Historical note
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 Präparanden-Schule in Langenhorst from 1902 to 1905 and then the teachers college in Büren, 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.
Arrangement note
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)
Provenance
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.
Processing Information note
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.

Additional Forms Available

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.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available