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Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970 | Digitized Collection

Josef Albers papers, 1929-1970

Biographical 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.