Josef Albers’s preliminary course


After Johannes Itten’s departure in 1923, Josef Albers led the preliminary course along with László Moholy-Nagy. From 1928 Albers became its official head.


Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Fondazione Banca del Monte, Foggia
Materialstudie aus dem Vorkurs von Josef Albers, Bauhaus Dessau, Autor: Alfredo Bortoluzzi, 1927.

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As a qualified primary school teacher and art teacher, Josef Albers arrived at the Bauhaus in 1920 and completed the preliminary course under Johannes Itten. He designed the coloured glass windows for Sommerfeld House independently. In 1922, he was promoted to journeyman. From 1923, he was head of the glass painting workshop as master of works under Paul Klee as master of form.

After Johannes Itten’s departure, Walter Gropius commissioned Josef Albers and the Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy to teach the preliminary course together. When the latter left the Bauhaus with Walter Gropius in 1928, Albers became the official head of the preliminary course. Albers taught material studies during the first semester, which he extended to up to 18 hours per week in the preliminary course workshop. In his classes, he had the students use simple tools to explore the properties of various materials such as metal, wood and paper. The focus was on the development of spatial structures where the correlation of material, construction, function and production technology was to lead to optimal performance with a minimum input of material, energy and time: a school of invention.

After the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925, Albers, together with Marcel Breuer, Hinnerk Scheper and Herbert Bayer, was promoted to the position of junior master. When László Moholy-Nagy left the Bauhaus 1928, Albers continued as the official and only head of the preliminary course.

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Hedwig Seegers
Materialstudie mit Holzspänen aus dem Vorkurs von Josef Albers, Autor: Heinrich Neuy.
Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau (I 327 S) / © (Reichardt, Margaretha (Grete)) Kaiser, Gisela
Steckpüppchen, Autor: Margaretha Reichardt, 1926.
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Hedwig Seegers
Optische Täuschung: Ornamentglas, imitiert durch bearbeitetes Silberpapier unter klarer Fensterglasscheibe, Stanniolpapier unter Glasscheibe, Autor: Heinrich Neuy, Bauhaus Dessau, 1930.
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © unbekannt.
Materialstudie in Messingblech aus dem Unterricht von Josef Albers, Autor: Takehiko Mizutani, 1928 / Foto: Hartwig Klappert, 2008.
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