Installation view, Josef Albers: Glasbilder, Bauhaus, Dessau, 1932. Photo by Josef Albers. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 1976.19.6389. © 2020 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Made in 1936, after Albers had moved to the United States to teach at Black Mountain College, this work revisits City, a damaged glasswork made in Germany eight years earlier, when Albers was at the Bauhaus.
The artist’s stencil and sandblasting technique lend his glassworks a distinctive clarity and immediacy that translates into the crisp geometry of painting. This is one of the only paintings of its kind created by the artist as a historical record of a significant Bauhaus-era composition.
Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany
This rhythmic abstract arrangement also served as the basis for Manhattan, a monumental mural commissioned in 1963 by Walter Gropius for the Pan Am building in New York, now best known as the MetLife building, which was recently reinstalled.
As Nicholas Fox Weber, the executive director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, writes, “Manhattan was designed to be seen on the move as commuters traveled up and down the bank of highspeed escalators leading to Grand Central—what Albers called a portal to New York. For him, the project was not just an opportunity to represent the Bauhaus ideals on a grand scale, but a chance to celebrate New York, emboldened by its vital energy, visual pleasures and growing forest of skyscrapers.”
Albers once described the mural as “my homage to the city of New York.”
Josef Albers, Manhattan, 1963. Recreated for 200 Park Avenue, New York, 2019. Courtesy The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Photo by J. Alex Lan