Josef Albers as Teacher

“Did a preoccupation with the past, as Albers claimed, produce imitation and prevent creativity? Did a hankering for individuality lead to conformity? Was fashion the enemy of honesty? Did words betray feelings and introspection atrophy the senses?” (61-62)

It’s “like people,” Albers would say: “no one person is continually most important.”  An individual, like a color or a line, could dominate temporarily but “perceptual ambiguities” soon shift and mix, someone or something else emerging into the foreground; “when you really understand that each color is changed by a changed environment, you eventually find that you have learned about life as well as about color.” (56)

“Very few of us can own things without being corrupted by them, without having pride involved in possessing  them, gaining thereby a false security.  Very few of us can resist being distracted by things.  We need to learn to choose the simple and lasting instead of the new and individual….This means reducing instead of adding, the reversal of our typical thinking.” (55) [Anni Albers]

“The past has led us to the present. Whether the past will be a help to us or a hindrance, depends on how we respect the present” (50)

All education, Albers believed, is self-education, but self-education best proceeds through comparison.

“Every day was a new revelation…I have always said in my saying or teaching, ‘Make the result of teaching a feeling of growing.’ That is the greatest incentive to continue developing yourself.  The feeling of growing. And today a little bit more than it was yesterday. And a little bit more than it was last year. You see? That you feel: I’m getting wider and deeper and fuller…I have made a sport of growing myself. That was a big sport, and therefore helped me with the sport to make others grow.” (49)

“I had to be careful not to learn English to well because it would have interfered with my communication.” (46)

Art, he believed, “is concerned with something that cannot be explained by words or literal description…art is revelation instead of information, expression instead of description, creation instead of imitation or repetition….Art is concerned with the HOW, not the WHAT; not the literal content, but with the performance of the factual content.  The performance–how it is done–that is the content of art.” (47)

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