Josef Albers Life and Work

Charles Darwent


Drawing on extensive unpublished archival writings, documents, and illustrations, this is the first full-scale biography of one of the 20th-century’s great artists.

In his accessible study of the “whole” Albers, Charles Darwent combats the fables while telling the fascinating story of an artist, friend, and intellectual.

Among Albers’s unpublished papers are letters from friends John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra, and Eva Hesse, as well as fans and collectors ranging from the composer Virgil Thomson to the cartoonist Saul Steinberg. If his network of influence was surprisingly wide, so too, were his interests. He started life at the Bauhaus as a glass-maker and went on to create fonts, to run their famous wallpaper workshop, and to make furniture whose designs are still in production eighty years later. He pioneered the study of color at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and chaired the design department at Yale University. While books have been written about Albers for specialist audiences, this new volume fulfills the clear need for a more general study. 


A gripping biography of a German artist unjustly pigeonholed as the creator of interminable variations of pictures of squares… Darwent draws extensively on Albers’s previously unpublished writings and drawings to fully capture the artist’s life… Sympathetic and generously illustrated.

— Publishers Weekly

A meticulously researched, elegantly written, and generously illustrated biography of an artist whose personality was as enigmatic as his art… Darwent deftly characterizes the outsized egos and philosophical and petty rivalries that roiled the Bauhaus… An authoritative and sensitive portrait of a modern master.

— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Charles Darwent


Charles Darwent is an art critic and reviewer. He contributes regularly to the Guardian, the Art Newspaper and ArtReview. He appeared in the Netflix series, Raiders of the Lost Art, from 2014 to 2016. His publications include Mondrian in London and The Drawing Book: A Survey of Drawing.