Anni and Josef Albers, Art and Life

From 10 September 2021 to 9 January 2022, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris has organised a brand new exhibition devoted to Anni and Josef Albers, bringing together more than three hundred and fifty significant works from the artistic development of the two artists.

In this exhibition, what absolutely struck me was the intimate and very complicit bond between two artists that enabled them, throughout their lives, to support and strengthen each other in a permanent and respectful dialogue that complemented each other without overshadowing.

Their ability to make their art evolve, considered today as the basis of modernism, but also to transmit their vision of art, is remarkable.

The main ambition of both artists as teachers is to make students more receptive to the world around them. Josef Albers defines his mission as “to open eyes”, seeking to make them aware of a new way of seeing things. For him, teaching art is not about imparting theoretical knowledge, but rather about raising questions through open exploration, “learning by doing”.

They share the conviction that art can profoundly transform our world and must be at the heart of human existence: “Works of art teach us what courage is. We must go where no one has gone before us. (Anni Albers)

So, I want to share some quotes that have resonated strongly with me, both in my artistic work and in my work of transmission, through my “art thinking” approach

“I do not learn to paint, but to see”, Josef Albers

“Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as to listen to what wishes to be done: what the materials dictate to us.

“I did not build any theory. I only tried to develop sensitive eyes.

“I believe that art is parallel to life. Colour, in my opinion, behaves like a human being…, in two distinct ways: first in its autonomous existence, then in its relationship to others.

From the very beginning of their work, the two artists have placed the function of art at the heart of their reflection. They also believe that creation plays an essential role in the education of each individual.

As artists and teachers, they constantly demonstrate the immeasurable impact of artistic activity on self-realisation and, more broadly, on relationships with others. With these values in mind, they seek to lead their students towards greater autonomy of thought and an awareness of the subjectivity of perception. According to them, teaching is not reduced to transmitting theoretical knowledge that has already been written down, but consists, on the contrary, in constantly raising new questions: firstly through sensitive observation of the world – visual and tactile – that surrounds us; then through the empirical discovery that creative experimentation with the materials at hand entails, without prejudging their aesthetic values.

“Learn to see and feel life, cultivate your imagination, because there are still wonders in the world, because life is a mystery and will remain so. But let us be aware of it. (Josef Albers)

Don’t miss this exhibition, if you didn’t have the opportunity to see it in Paris, because it will be presented at the IVAM (Instituto Valenciano de ArteModerno) in Valencia, Spain, from February 15th to June 20th 2022.