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Josef Albers, Late Modernism, and Pedagogic Form

An incisive analysis of the pedagogy of influential artist and teacher Josef Albers.
An extraordinary teacher whose influence continues today, Josef Albers helped shape the Bauhaus school in Germany and established the art and design programs at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and Yale University. His books about color theory have informed generations, and his artworks are included in the canon of high-modernist non-representational art. The pedagogy Albers developed was a dynamic approach to teaching that transcended the modernist agendas and cultivated a material way of thinking among his students.
With this book, Jeffrey Saletnik explores the origins of Albers’s teaching practices and their significance in conveying attitudes about form, material, and sensory understanding to artists Eva Hesse and Richard Serra. He demonstrates how pedagogy is a framework that establishes the possibility for artistic discourse and how the methods through which artists learn are manifested in their individual practices. Tracing through lines from Albers’s training in German educational traditions to his influence on American postwar art, Josef Albers, Late Modernism, and Pedagogic Form positions Albers’s pedagogy as central to the life of modernism.

320 pages | 53 color plates, 87 halftones | 7 x 10

Art: American Art, Art Criticism, European Art

Education: Philosophy of Education


“Saletnik’s Josef Albers, Late Modernism, and Pedagogic Form is a brilliant, boldly original work of art-historical scholarship. He examines in rich detail the formation of Josef Albers’s pedagogy in Wilhelmine Germany, how it shaped his legendary teaching at Yale, and—this is the bold part—how his pedagogical exercises decisively shaped habits of mind and hand in the work of Yale alumni Eva Hesse and Richard Serra, two artists whose artistic practice seems far removed from Albers’s own. The book is an exemplary demonstration of the insights to be gained from exhaustive archival and historical research and close, thoughtful looking.”

Charles W. Haxthausen, Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History, Emeritus, Williams College

“This very important study offers a new understanding of the significant impact that Josef Albers’s artistic and pedagogical commitments had on key figures of the ‘postminimalist’ generation of American artists, such as Eva Hesse and Richard Serra. Most importantly, perhaps, its wide-ranging analysis radically questions the rigid distinctions commonly made between the closures of a modernist commitment to form and the experimental ethos of process-orientated art.”

Alex Potts, Max Loehr Collegiate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

Table of Contents

Introduction: “Bye, bye, Bauhaus”
A Linear Constructions
1 From Object to Process: On Albers’s Pedagogic Forms
  Learning by Doing
  Progressive Education
  Educating Albers
  Pedagogic Form
B Photography
2 Fold/Manifold: On Eva Hesse and Albers
  Lightweight and Weighted Down
  Folding and Unfolding
C Painting
3 Color Aid: On Richard Serra and Albers
  Working Methods
  Disciplined Disorientation
Epilogue: Playtime
Selected Bibliography
Image Credits

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