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Artist fled the Nazis

August 16, 2017

Josef Albers, the subject of my book, An Eye for Color, and his Jewish wife, Anni, fled Germany when the Nazis closed down the school where he was teaching and she was a student. 

Albers was the longest working teacher at the Bauhaus and one of the few who closed down the school when Nazi aggression made its operation unsustainable. Josef had married Annelise Fleischmann, a fiber-arts student at the Bauhaus, who came from a prominent publishing family from Berlin that had converted from Judaism to Christianity. Regardless of the conversion, under the Nuremburg Laws Anni Albers was Jewish, and getting out of Germany became paramount for the couple.

In 1933 the newly-established Black Mountain College in North Carolina offered Josef a teaching job. Eddie Warburg, a Jewish patron of the arts who arranged Albers’ position, was ecstatic, and wrote to a Alfred H. Barr, the first director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), “With Albers over here we have the nucleus of an American Bauhaus!”

We should be thankful that an art patron was willing to help the Alberses, and that our country accepted them. Both Josef and Anni contributed to the art scene and influenced generations of American artists. 

Josef Albers studying "Homage to the Square" prints in his studio in his Connecticut home.



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