Defense Date

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Lindauer

Second Advisor

Dr. Eric Garberson

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Chapman

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ryan Patton

Abstract

Josef Albers (1888–1976) was an artist and educator best known for his teaching on color and for his painting series Homage to the Square, which he worked on from 1949 until his death. The symbiotic relationship between his teaching and artmaking practices, as well as the value Albers placed on the ongoing pursuit of knowledge, contributed to a lifelong commitment to teaching and learning whether he was at the Bauhaus, BMC, Yale, or in any other institutional context. This dissertation, in addition to offering a history that addresses the development of both Albers’ teaching methods and his artworks, identifies three beliefs which can be traced from his youth to his last days. These are: (1) the economy of means, (2) truth to materials, and (3) art as an extension of life. While these beliefs have been discussed and identified by scholars over the years as truisms with and through which to discuss Albers’s life and work, they have not been studied as connecting themes that persist irrespective of where he worked, and that manifest differently depending on his context. The consistency and contingency of these beliefs is the primary contribution of this dissertation, as it offers examples and traces the evolution of their manifestations through Albers’s life story.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

12-2-2020

Available for download on Monday, December 01, 2025

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