Josef Albers was a German-born painter, designer, writer and teacher who became an American citizen in 1939. He studied and taught at the Bauhaus where his activities embraced stained glass, typography and furniture design. When the Bauhaus closed in 1933, Albers emigrated to the USA and joined the faculty of the progressive Black Mountain College where he ran the painting program until 1949. He was one of the first Bauhaus teachers to move there and one of the most active in propagating its ideas.
Albers made numerous abstract works featuring geometric shapes; but of all shapes he favoured the square as he believed that it best distanced a work of art from nature, emphasizing its man-made quality. He worked on his most famous series 'Homage to the Square', from 1949 until his death.
Josef Albers – Formulation: Articulation Preface: Written by Norman Ives and Sewell Sillman
The concept of this publication is the realisation rather than the reproduction of the essential ideas in Josef Albers’ works. It is our intention to show the artist’s methods of formulating his ideas and thus demonstrate the manifold potentials in his unique concern for colour and formal relations, rather than to reproduce selected paintings from special collections. We have tried to show how he has continually worked in series; for example, in one folder the same image will be developed several times, the only difference being that the same colour (or similar colours) is distributed in different quantities and therefore assumes new characteristics. Or, in another folder, we will consider the visual dialogue between versions of the same painting in the same hue: reds, greens, greys. Works have been selected from forty years of Albers’ search and offer an unusual opportunity for study of this significant artist’s direct participation in an original development of his own work. The conceptual relationships between colour and form inherent in each particular work have been restudied and developed for the medium of screenprinting.
This medium has made possible the maximum control of Albers’ colour interactions. No attempt has been made to present the work in chronological order; rather, for each portfolio the artist has placed the folders in a sequential order so that they may be seen and examined for their visual interaction, whether in related groups of two or three or simply for the colour and shape interdependencies he has seen exist from folder to folder. Finally, in Josef Albers’ own words: “Our aim is not a retrospective report; the book aims at Art itself, meaning: no retrospective in the usual sense. These are visual realisations here presented outspoken in silkscreen.”