Joseph Albers was one of the most influential American painters and theoreticians, best known for his Homage to the Square series of the 1950s and 1960s, which explored simplified forms and interplays of color and shape. Born in Germany in 1988, Albers entered the Bauhaus, a school in Weimar that focused on the relationship between arts and technology, as well as how to integrate architecture, fine art and craft. Albers became an influential teacher at the Bauhaus in Germany, alongside Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, then moved to the United States in 1933, where he headed the painting program at the innovative Black Mountain College until 1949. Albers became known for his participation in the minimalist, conceptual and Op art movements, and went on to teach at both Harvard and Yale with a focus on color theory.
Throughout his career, Albers developed his aesthetic color theories, which explored visual effects created by the interplays of color and shape. Albers’ Homage to the Square series is his most famous body of work, which includes more than one thousand works created over twenty-five years, in mediums spanning painting, drawing, tapestries and prints. The color-theory series explores the subjective experience of color and the effects created when adjacent colors interact, through his geometric formal of several squares overlapping or nested within each other. The squares produce optical illusions of receding or advancing colors. His 1963 book Interaction of Color accompanied Albers’ exploration of color and form in Homage to the Square.
Josef Albers’ artworks reside in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the Tate Gallery in London, among many others.