Anni and Josef Albers: Together in Life and Art

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Anni and Josef Albers: Together in Life and Art
The Musée d’Art Moderne dedicates a retrospective, the first in France, to Anni and Josef Albers, the seminal artist couple defined by some as a “two-person religious sect.” Anni and Josef met at the Bauhaus in 1922. He was already part of the faculty, teaching both glasswork and design, while Anni, a gifted student, had joined the school to learn weaving, the only course considered appropriate for female students despite the school’s progressive methods. Anni at work in her studio, black and white photo exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, photographed by Sarah Bartesaghi Truong Josef teaching color theory, black and white photo exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, photographed by Sarah Bartesaghi Truong Married in 1925, the two left Germany for the United States in 1933 when, under pressure from the Nazi regime for their supposedly subversive teachings, the Bauhaus faculty decided to close the school down. For Anni, emigrating was not only a question of artistic freedom but also a life-and-death necessity, her Jewish origins putting her in danger. They never went back, teaching first at the newly established Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and then at Yale University, where Josef became chair of the new Department of Design. Josef, alongside his work as an artist, was at his best teaching. A video shows him in class, explaining to his students how to look at what surrounds them, faithful to his guiding principle as a teacher, which was “to open eyes”. The exhibition, organized jointly with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, aims to retrace their careers as well as their lives. The curator Julia Garimorth sets the tone from the start, where a series of black and white candid photographs of the couple welcome the visitor. The strength of their bond, evident in these portraits, acts as a fil rouge throughout the show, which displays side by side, in chronological order, works by Anni and Josef. The creativity of one seems to respond to the creativity of the other, through different mediums. Anni and Josef Albers as newlyweds, black and white photos exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, photographed by Sarah Bartesaghi Truong Josef focused on drawing and printmaking at the start of his career, but then started experimenting in glassmaking at the Bauhaus. Even when, later, he played with new techniques, such as furniture making and silversmithing, there never seemed to be any unnecessary ornamentation. Throughout his career his works, whatever their material, obey strict principles of geometry, in anticipation of his later, and probably most famous masterpiece: the series Homage to the Square, here shown in several examples.
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Lead photo credit : Josef and Anni Albers in the US, black and white photo exhibited at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, photographed by Sarah Bartesaghi Truong

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Sarah Bartesaghi Truong has lived, studied and worked in Milan, Paris and London. Her lifelong passion for art in all its forms and her entrepreneurial dreams were the catalyst for a career change: she left the world of investment banking to go back to school, at the Sotheby’s Institute of London. Ten years ago, she moved back to Paris, the ideal location for an art-lover. As an Italian in Paris, she decided she would keep playing the tourist in her adoptive home town, always on the lookout for the many wonders the French capital has to offer to the curious explorer. VeniVidiParis, the company she founded, plans curated itineraries in the French capital and its vicinity for travellers wishing to discover the city’s vibrant art scene, but not only. Take a look at her recent discoveries on her Instagram feed, @venividiparis, or contact her at [email protected] for help planning your next Parisian vacation.