Josef Albers (; German: [ˈalbɐs]; March 19, 1888 – March 25, 1976) was a German-born American artist and educator who is considered one of the most influential 20th-century art teachers in the United States. Born in 1888 in Bottrop, Westphalia, Germany, into a Roman Catholic family with a background in craftsmanship, Albers received practical training in diverse skills like engraving glass, plumbing, and wiring during his childhood. He later worked as a schoolteacher from 1908 to 1913 and received his first public commission in 1918 and moved to Munich in 1919. In 1920, Albers joined the Weimar Bauhaus as a student and later became a faculty member in 1922, teaching the principles of handicrafts. With the Bauhaus's move to Dessau in 1925, he was promoted to professor and married Anni Albers, a student at the institution and a textile artist. Albers' work in Dessau included designing furniture and working with glass, collaborating with established artists like Paul Klee.
Following the Bauhaus's closure under Nazi pressure in 1933, Albers emigrated to the United States. He was appointed as the head of the painting program at the experimental liberal arts institution Black Mountain College in North Carolina, a position he held until 1949. At Black Mountain, Albers taught students who would later go on to become prominent artists such as Ruth Asawa and Robert Rauschenberg, and invited contemporary American artists to teach in the summer seminar, including the choreographer Merce Cunningham and Harlem Renaissance painter Jacob Lawrence. In 1950, he left for Yale University to head the design department, contributing significantly to its graphic design program.
Albers' teaching methodology, prioritizing practical experience and vision in design, had a profound impact on the development of postwar Western visual art, while his book Interaction of Color, published in 1963, is considered a seminal work on color theory. In addition to being a teacher, Albers was an active abstract painter and theorist, best known for his series Homage to the Square, in which he explored chromatic interactions with nested squares, meticulously recording the colors used. He also created murals, such as those for the Corning Glass Building and the Time & Life Building in New York City. In 1970, he and his wife lived in Orange, Connecticut where they continued to work in their private studio. In 1971, Albers was first living artist to be given a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Albers died in his sleep on March 25, 1976 at the Yale New Haven Hospital after being admitted for a possible heart ailment.