Art is performance!Josef Albers
Josef Albers (1888-1976) was a German-born artist and educator best known for his contributions to art and design, particularly for his abstract art and colour theory work. He was a prominent figure in the Bauhaus movement, a school of art and design operated in Germany from 1919 to 1933.
Josef Albers left Germany in 1933 due to the rise of the Nazi party and the increasing persecution of Jewish individuals and other minority groups. Albers, a faculty member at the Bauhaus with a progressive and experimental approach to education and was known for its liberal ideals, found himself increasingly marginalized as the Nazi party gained power.
In 1933, the Nazi government forced the closure of the Bauhaus, and Albers and his wife Anni fled Germany for the United States. They settled in North Carolina, where Albers accepted a teaching position at Black Mountain College. Albers continued to work as an artist and educator in the United States, becoming a key figure in the development of abstract art and colour theory. His work continued to influence generations of artists and designers.
Albers was particularly interested in how colours interact and how they can be used to create illusions of depth, movement, and space. He developed a series of exercises and experiments that explored the properties of colour. These exercises became the basis for his influential book “Interaction of Color,” published in 1963.
Josef Albers was deeply interested in the properties of colour and how they interact with each other. He believed that colour could create optical illusions, affect the viewer’s mood, and convey emotions and meanings.
Albers developed a series of exercises and experiments that explored how colours interact. He believed that colours could be made to appear to be different shades or hues depending on their context, and he sought to understand the principles that governed these effects.
One of Albers’ most famous works is his series of paintings called “Homage to the Square,” He explored the effects of colour through a series of overlapping squares of different colours. These paintings demonstrate how colours can appear to change depending on their surroundings and the colours placed next to them.
Albers’ work on colour theory and the interaction of colours was highly influential in art and design, and his ideas continue to be studied and applied by artists and designers today.
In addition to his work as an artist and educator, Albers was also a prolific writer and designer. He taught at several prestigious art schools in Germany and the United States, including Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale University.
Albers joined the faculty of Black Mountain College in 1933, shortly after he and his wife Anni emigrated to the United States from Germany. The college was a small, experimental institution in North Carolina that emphasized interdisciplinary learning and a hands-on approach to education. Josef Albers’ years at Black Mountain College were very productive and influential.
At Black Mountain College, Albers continued to develop his ideas about colour and abstraction, and he became a mentor to many of the young artists and designers who were studying there. He was particularly influential in developing abstract expressionism, a movement that focuses on gesture, emotion, and the physicality of the artistic process.
Albers also played a crucial role in developing the college’s art program, emphasizing experimentation and collaboration. He encouraged his students to explore new materials and techniques and to work together to create new ideas and approaches to art and design.
Some of Albers’ most famous works were produced at Black Mountain College, including his “Homage to the Square” series of paintings. These works demonstrate his interest in the interaction of colour and how colours can appear to change depending on their surroundings.
Albers’ years at Black Mountain College were an essential period in his career, and his influence on the students and artists who studied there continues to be felt today.
Josef Albers left Black Mountain College in 1949 after serving on the faculty for 16 years. Several factors contributed to his departure.
One of the primary reasons was that Albers was offered a teaching position at Yale University, a more prestigious institution with a more extensive art department and more significant resources. Albers saw this as an opportunity to expand his career and continue developing his ideas about art and design.
Another factor was some tension between Albers and some of the other faculty members at Black Mountain College, particularly those involved in the development of the college’s music program. Albers believed that the arts should be separate and distinct from one another, while some of the other faculty members thought of a more interdisciplinary approach.
Josef Albers designed his famous “Nesting Tables” set in 1926 while he was a faculty member at the Bauhaus school in Germany. The tables were part of a larger project that Albers was working on to design functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture.
The Nesting Tables consist of four that can be arranged in various configurations to create different surfaces and spaces. Each table is a different size and shape, and they can be nested together to save space when not in use.
The design of the Nesting Tables reflects Albers’ interest in modernist principles of form and function, as well as his belief that furniture should be adaptable and flexible. The tables have become iconic examples of Bauhaus design and remain highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts of modernist furniture.
Anni Albers was a highly skilled artist and designer who worked in textiles and other media. She was a close collaborator and partner with her husband throughout their careers. While Josef Albers is generally credited with designing the Nesting Tables, his wife Anni likely played a role in their creation.
Anni is known to have played a significant role in many of Josef Albers’ projects, providing feedback and suggestions that helped to refine and improve his designs. She was also known to have a keen eye for colour and texture, which would have been valuable in creating the Nesting Tables.
While the precise nature of Anni Albers’ contributions to the design of the Nesting Tables has yet to be discovered, it is clear that she and Josef worked closely together and shared many ideas and influences. Their partnership was a vital part of their creative output, and their work continues to be celebrated and studied today.
For more information on the design power couple, check out the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
The Nesting Tables designed by Josef Albers have become iconic examples of modernist furniture design, and they remain highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts today.
There are several different versions of the tables, some of which were produced during Albers’ time at the Bauhaus in Germany, while others were produced later in the United States. The original tables were made of wood and were produced in limited numbers, making them rare and valuable.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the Nesting Tables, and a number of reproductions and reinterpretations of the design have been produced. Some contemporary designers have also been inspired by Albers’ work and have created their own versions of the tables, incorporating new materials and techniques while remaining true to the original design principles.
Today, original examples of the Nesting Tables can be found in the collections of major museums and galleries worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. They continue to be celebrated as important examples of modernist furniture design and a testament to Josef Albers’ enduring legacy.
If you are interested in buying the Tables, you can find them at the Bauhaus Movement shop online.