press release

Essen, Bottrop. Colour in the works of Josef Albers exerts a powerful and unique effect. Lines, colour, surface and space interact with one another to challenge the perception of the viewer. Albers’ series “Homage to the Square“, which consists of more than 2,000 works, became the trademark of this pioneering artist, teacher, art theorist and catalyst. Now the Kulturstiftung Ruhr (Ruhr Arts Trust) and the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop are planning to stage a major retrospective in Essen, bringing his multifaceted work together in the Villa Hügel.

Josef Albers. Interaction (16. June to 8. October 2018) will be the first major exhibition for thirty years of work by the artist who was born in Bottrop. A good 130 works – the majority of which come from important American collections and the Josef Albers Museum – will be shown in the former residence of the industrialist Krupp. The Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Foundation that began its charitable work in 1968, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with this remarkable exhibition. The curator is Dr. Heinz Liesbrock, the Director of the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop.

Learning to see
Josef Albers explored colour in its artistic dimension. He wanted to think colour, searched for its weight, discussed with his students its continually changing face and the loss of all certainty: “Only appearances are not deceptive”, he wrote. This influential Bauhaus teacher stands for an art which teaches people to see things afresh. The exhibition begins with Albers’ time at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. It describes the major themes in his years in America – his encounter with Mexico and the series Homage to the Square. The exhibits will include paintings, graphic prints, furniture, everyday articles, works in glass, photography and pre-Columbian sculptures. A comparison between Renaissance sculptures and icons with Albers’ paintings elucidates the spiritual dimension of his art. Light will also be thrown on Albers’ influence on American art in the 1960s, so-called Minimal Art.

Josef Albers
Josef Albers (1888-1976) – born and raised in the Ruhrgebiet – was initially a teacher before attending the School of Arts and Crafts in Essen. Via the Academy of Art in Munich he arrived at the newly founded Bauhaus, where he was a master teacher and deputy director. In his opinion, teaching and artistic work were indivisibly entwined. When the Bauhaus was closed as a result of pressure by the National Socialists, Albers and his wife Anni were invited by the legendary Black Mountain College to move to the USA in 1933. In 1950 he was appointed head of the design department at Yale University in New Haven. He is considered as the most influential art educationalist of his time. His teachings have influenced the likes of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Merce Cunningham

Place. Foundations. Activities.

The Villa Hügel, situated above the Ruhr valley in Essen, was the home of the Krupp family from 1873 to 1945, and an important representative part of the company. It contains over 269 rooms and is situated in a large 28 ha. park. Temporary exhibitions, concerts and other events have been taking place in the Villa Hügel since 1953. In addition it houses the Historisches Archiv Krupp (Historical Archive Krupp), one of the most comprehensive and oldest business archives in Germany. A permanent exhibition informs visitors about the history of the family and the firm. In 1984 Berthold Beitz – he was the chairman of the board of trustees of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Foundation until his death in 2013 – set up the Kulturstiftung Ruhr (Ruhr Arts Trust) in the Villa Hügel: its mission was “to give new impulses to the cultural life in the Ruhrgebiet”. The Kulturstiftung Ruhr selects art and cultural historical themes for its highly regarded exhibitions.

Today the charitable Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Foundation is the owner of the complete Hügel site. In 1968 it began its huge programme of grants and promotional activities. The foundation will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a major Josef Albers retrospective in 2018, curated by Heinz Liesbrock. The project is being undertaken in cooperation with the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop.