New York City, NY
Josef Albers (American, born Germany, 1888–1976) is a central figure in 20th-century art, both as a practitioner and as a teacher at the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale University. Best known for his iconic series Homages to the Square, Albers made paintings, drawings, and prints and designed furniture and typography. The least familiar aspect of his extraordinary career is his inventive engagement with photography, which was only discovered after his death. The highlight of this work is undoubtedly the photocollages featuring photographs he made at the Bauhaus between 1928 and 1932. At once expansive and restrained, this remarkable body of work anticipates concerns that Albers would pursue throughout his career: seriality, perception, and the relationship between handcraft and mechanical production.
The first serious exploration of Albers’s photographic practice occurred in a modest exhibition at MoMA in 1988, The Photographs of Josef Albers. In 2015, the Museum acquired 10 photocollages by Albers—adding to the two donated by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation almost three decades ago—making its collection the most significant anywhere outside the Foundation. This installation celebrates both this landmark acquisition.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the publication, One and One Is Four: The Bauhaus Photocollages of Josef Albers, focuses on this deeply personal and inventive aspect of Albers’s work and makes many of these photocollages available for the first time. Only widely known after his death, including his production of approximately 70 photocollages that feature photographs he made at the Bauhaus between 1928 and 1932. These works anticipate concerns that he would pursue throughout his career--the effects of adjacency, the exploration of color through white, black and gray, and the delicate balance between handcraft and industrial and mechanical form. This publication reproduces each of the photocollages Albers made at the Bauhaus, presenting the scope of this achievement for the first time. An introductory essay by Sarah Hermanson Meister situates them within the contexts of modernist photography, the Bauhaus ethos and of Albers’ own practice.