Josef Albers Aquarium 1934

Josef Albers
Aquarium 1934
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation

During his thirteen years at the Bauhaus, Albers rose from being a student to the position of Deputy Director. However, his time there came to an abrupt end in 1933, when the teaching staff decided to close the school following the Nazi electoral victory. Albers, concerned that he had no future as an artist in Germany, was eager to leave the country. Within six months, he took up a teaching post at the newly founded Black Mountain College, North Carolina.

With the closure of the Bauhaus workshop, Albers was unable to produce his sandblasted glass works, so he returned to printmaking. This medium is equally disconnected, through the involvement of skilled craftsmen, from the artist’s hand. He remained a prolific printmaker for the rest of his life.

This room includes prints made in Berlin and at Black Mountain College. They share an ambition to translate and extend his earlier experiments in glass – and photography – into a new medium. Questions of perception were central, whether in the construction of a stylised elephant’s head from contrasting planes, or the evocation of the sea through the print block’s wooden texture. Albers even devised compositions, such as Study for ‘Aquarium’ c.1934, that could be seen in any number of ways, insisting that if turned sideways or upside down the pictures amounted to an entirely new image.