Josef Albers (1888 - 1976), was a German artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the 20th century.
Born in Bottrop, Westphalia, on March 19, 1888, Albers studied art in Berlin, Essen, and Munich before enrolling as a student at the prestigious Weimar Bauhaus in 1920. He began teaching in the preliminary course of the Department of Design in 1922, and was promoted to Professor in 1925, the year the Bauhaus moved to Dessau.
With the closure of the Bauhaus under Nazi pressure in 1933, Albers emigrated to the United States and joined the faculty of Black Mountain College, North Carolina, where he ran the painting program until 1949. At Black Mountain his students included Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Motherwell. In 1950 Albers left Black Mountain to head the Department of Design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut until he retired from teaching in 1958. In 1963 he published "Interaction of Color" which presented his theory that colors were governed by an internal and deceptive logic. Albers continued to paint and write, staying in New Haven with his wife, textile artist Anni Albers, until his death on March 26, 1976.
Accomplished as a designer, photographer, typographer, printmaker and poet, Albers is best remembered for his work as an abstract painter and theorist. He favored a very disciplined approach to composition. Most famous of all are the dozens of paintings and prints that make up the series "Homage to the Square." In this rigorous series, begun in 1949, Albers explored chromatic interactions with flat colored squares arranged concentrically on the canvas.
Albers' theories on art and education were formative for the next generation of artists. His own paintings form the foundation of both hard-edge abstraction and Op art.