During their first visit to Mexico, in the winter of 1935–36, Josef and Anni Albers knew that they were in a “country for art like no other.” The couple returned to Mexico thirteen times by the late 1960s, developing a passion for pre-Columbian art and architecture that would influence Josef’s abstract painting and prints and fuel his innovative approach to photography. In 1933, after the Nazis closed the Bauhaus, the German art and design school where they both were instructors, the Alberses moved to North Carolina to teach at Black Mountain College. On their frequent trips to Mexico, they drove to archaeological sites throughout the country—from Monte Albán and Teotihuacán to Uxmal and Chichén Itzá—studying the monumental constructions and amassing a large collection of sculptures and ceramics.
For Josef, the complex abstract vocabulary of pre-Columbian art and architecture embodied the principles he and Anni espoused in their work and teaching. With limited knowledge of the cultures that had built the structures they admired, the Alberses celebrated those civilizations’ dynamic geometric forms and truth to materials—values the couple sought to renew in modern art and design.
Guggenheim Museum Publications
Hardback, 9.8 x 1 x 13 in. / 128 pages