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ALBERS, Josef (1888-1976)

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ALBERS, Josef (1888-1976), American painter, graphic artist, and influential teacher, who investigated color relationships in his geometrical abstractions. Born in Bottrop, Germany, Albers attended art schools in Berlin, Essen, and Munichand then studied (1920-23) and taught design in the avant-garde BAUHAUS (q.v.) for 10 years. He emphasized functionalism and suitability in modern design. After the Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933, Albers went to Black Mountain College, North Carolina, where he taught Bauhaus principles to his pupils, including the painter Robert Rauschenberg and the composer John Cage. When Yale University formed (1950) a department of design, Albers became its head, retiring from that position in 1958. Albers emphasized rectilinear shapes of strong, flat color. The interplay of hues heightened the nonrepresentational, purely optical effect of the forms. In the famous experimental Homage to the Square series (started in the early 1950s), progressively smaller forms help illustrate his theories of how changes in placement, shape, and light produce changes in color. Albers's Interaction of Color (1963) is a basic text. His work influenced the op and minimal art of the 1960s.

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