Born in Bottrop, Germany in 1888, Josef Albers studied painting and printmaking in Berlin, Essen and Munich between the years 1908 and 1920. In 1920 he enrolled at the newly formed Bauhaus school and was promoted to professor in 1925. In 1933, after the Nazi government closed the Bauhaus, Albers left Germany for the United States.
On the recommendation of architect Philip Johnson, Albers organised the fine arts curriculum at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he taught until 1949. The next year he began a 10-year tenure as chairman of the art department of Yale University.
Accomplished as a designer, photographer, typographer, printmaker and poet, Albers is best known for his work as an abstract artist and theorist. His work systematically explored the effects of perception - often through complex linear designs, each subject to many possible spatial interpretations.
Albers’ best known body of work, Homage to the Square (begun in 1950 and continued until his death), restricts forms to coloured squares superimposed onto each other. These works were exhibited worldwide and formed the basis of the first solo exhibition given to a living artist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1971.
Albers died in New Haven, Connecticut in 1976.