Josef Albers’ Bauhaus Collages Exhibit At MoMA

The minimalist painter and Bauhaus professor’s photographic explorations are shown for the first time

Until his death in 1976, Josef Albers was known for his paintings, drawings, typography and furniture design, and as a teacher at the Bahaus and Yale. Recently, his lesser-known works as a photographer have also drawn interest.

The photocollages exhibited at MoMA’s One and One is Four are both intimate and innovative. They were taken during his time as a professor at the Dessau Bauhaus before the art school was closed under Nazi pressure in 1933.

In an interview in 1968, Albers spoke about the day he was notified of his position as professor by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus:

“In that summer [1923] Gropius held a student meeting and announced that, ‘We now have an additional house in the park [of the Weimar Bauhaus]... And in that we will have all the lower floors, for additional space. And we will have a new basic course and Albers will teach there.’ I said, what, me? He had never told me a word of this. ‘Yes, I want you to teach handicraft.’ I said I had left school [Albers was formerly a student at the Bauhaus] and wanted never to go back to teaching. But he said, ‘Do me the favour and start.’ So I did.”

At the Bauhaus, both as a student and then a professor, Albers explored glass and furniture work. But his use of photo collage was just as inventive. The highlighted works exhibited in One and One is Four underline concerns that Albers would continue to pursue as an artist: seriality, perception, and the relationship between handcraft and mechanical production.

“Albers’ photocollages stand as remarkable contributions to the medium in their own right,” says the exhibition’s curator Sarah Hermanson Meister, “while they anticipate in important ways key concerns that would animate the artist’s work throughout his career, including his iconic Homages to the Square.”

One and One Is Four: The Bauhaus Photocollages of Josef Albers is open at MoMA, New York until 2 April
moma.org