Correspondence; handwritten and typed manuscripts, lectures, and notes; interviews; financial records; audio tapes and films; clippings; research files; printed materials; postcards; travel documents; photographs; and memorabilia document the life and work of Josef and Anni Albers. Reflected in these materials is their work as visual artists, teachers, writers and collectors.
The papers are organized into subgroups: Josef Albers Papers, 1910–1978 (bulk 1933–1976) and Anni Albers Papers 1899–1994 (bulk 1940–1994). The two subgroups reflect the individual work of each and indicate the creator of the materials. Each subgroup is further organized into series and subseries reflecting the activity from which the materials were created or the material format.
The arrangement of the two subgroups is similar. Most subseries are found in both the Josef and Anni Albers subgroups and contain similar materials. There is overlap between the two subgroups since correspondence was frequently addressed to both Josef and Anni Albers and authored by one on behalf of both. All correspondence to and from both Josef and Anni Albers is found in the Josef Albers subgroup. Correspondence between them is in the Josef Albers subgroup. Postcards collected and holiday cards created by the Alberses are found in the Josef Albers subgroup. Material reflecting the Alberses’ collection of Pre-Columbian art is found in the Anni Albers subgroup.
The bulk of the archive consists of correspondence, writings, exhibition files, printed materials and financial files. Incoming and outgoing correspondence in the Josef and Anni Albers subgroups not listed in the finding aid are indexed at the end of the finding aid. The Anni Albers subgroup correspondence is minimally indexed since its smaller size allows for easier search and discovery. The archive has been in the possession of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation since its creation (originally as The Josef Albers Foundation) by Josef Albers and was minimally organized. Various staff members made groupings over the years but the archive was largely out of order. Original groupings made by Josef and Anni Albers were sometimes kept with their original folder but such groupings were not common. Although the archive is in good condition, special care should be given to newspaper clippings and carbon paper. Josef Albers appreciated stapling, sometimes stapling five items together over a dozen times. Staples have been removed and original groupings of materials are honored, with exceptions when items were moved to a more coherent grouping.
The Josef Albers subgroup consists primarily of correspondence with individuals and institutions and organizations. Josef Albers commonly handwrote several drafts of letters before handwriting or typing the final copy and retained the carbon copy. Josef Albers frequently handwrote comments or preliminary drafts of reply on letters received. Enclosures such as clippings and photographs received with correspondence remain with the letter and are often noted in the folder list. Correspondence can also be found in the Professional Papers series, in the subseries Teaching, Project Files, Architectural Commissions, and Awards and Honorary Degrees; and in Writings series, in the Books subseries. All correspondence relating to exhibitions and loan and purchase agreements is within the Correspondence series. Correspondence with Lee Eastman on behalf of his firm Eastman and Eastman is found throughout the subgroup, as Eastman was the Alberses’ attorney and friend. Additionally, correspondence with Sidney Janis on behalf of Sidney Janis Gallery in New York, Josef Albers’s primary gallery, is found throughout the subgroup. In addition to the wealth of correspondence, of great importance are the drafts of published and unpublished writings by Josef Albers. These include books, poems, lectures, speeches and notes on various topics. Many of the notes were scattered throughout the archive with no logical grouping. Effort was made during processing to describe the notes by topic but there are many that remain grouped together and undescribed. In addition to their own Writing series, writings are found throughout the subgroup in the Professional Papers series, in the subseries Teaching, Project Files, Architectural Commissions and Awards and Honorary Degrees.
Materials reflecting Josef Albers’s career as an educator and active visual artist comprise a large portion of the subgroup, containing correspondence, administrative, exhibition and lecture materials. Solo and group exhibition files contain catalogues, brochures, publicity, condition reports, shipment forms, work lists and notes. Notebook binders, while retained, were disassembled and refoldered with the original order left intact.
The Personal and Holiday Cards series are the smallest of the Josef Albers subgroup but they contain important materials. Among the materials in the Personal series there are documents relating to Josef Albers’s family; his academic records; birth, marriage and identification papers; and his will. The Holiday Cards series contains the holiday cards designed by Josef and Anni Albers that the couple sent to friends. These cards are considered among the works of art created by the couple.
The bulk of the materials in the Josef Albers subgroup date from 1940 to 1975. Materials across all series date from the 1920s to his death in 1976. Materials are in English and German, with translations of materials into French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Dutch and Japanese. Josef Albers’s handwritten comments on materials can be found throughout the subgroup.
The Anni Albers subgroup consists primarily of correspondence with individuals and institutions and organizations. Most correspondence to Anni Albers before Josef Albers’s death was addressed to the couple and is found in the Josef Albers subgroup. In addition to letters received, carbon copies of letters sent are throughout the papers. Staff of The Josef Albers Foundation (The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation was created after Anni Albers’s death), most often Executive Director Nicholas Fox Weber, frequently wrote on behalf of Anni Albers when she became too ill to maintain her own correspondence. There are a small number of written phone messages for Anni Albers found grouped with related correspondence. Enclosures such as clippings and photographs received with correspondence remain with the letter and are often noted in the folder list. Correspondence can also be found in the Professional Papers series, in the subseries Teaching, Project Files, and Awards and Honorary Degrees; in the Writings series, in the Books subseries; and in the Pre-Columbian Collection series. All correspondence relating to exhibitions and loan and purchase agreements is within the Correspondence series, except for all correspondence regarding the exhibition “The Woven and Graphic Art of Anni Albers,” at the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, which can be found in the Professional Papers series, in the Solo Exhibitions subseries. Drafts of published and unpublished writings by Anni Albers are an important part of the subgroup. These include books, lectures, and articles on weaving, design, Pre-Columbian textiles and figurines, and on various topics relating to crafts and art. In addition to their own Writing series, writings are found in the Professional Papers series, in the Solo Exhibitions subseries, for the publication The Woven and Graphic Art of Anni Albers.
Comprising a large portion of the Anni Albers subgroup are materials reflecting Anni Albers’s career as a weaver and printmaker. These materials regard various commission projects, the Josef Albers “Learning Never Ends” postage stamp, and solo and group exhibitions. Solo and group exhibition files contain catalogues, brochures, publicity, condition reports, shipment forms, work lists and notes.
Smaller series throughout the Anni Albers subgroup contain materials of great importance, including the Personal and Pre-Columbian Collection. Among the materials in the Personal series there are documents relating to Anni Albers’s family; academic records; birth and identification papers; and materials relating to the Alberses’ travels in Latin America. The Pre-Columbian Collection series contains photographs, negatives, correspondence, receipts, and printed materials regarding the Alberses’ collection of Pre-Columbian figurines and textiles.
The bulk of the materials in the Anni Albers subgroup date from 1945 to 1994. Materials across all series date from the 1899 to her death in 1994. Materials are in English, German, and occasionally in Spanish.
Other related materials, including books owned by the Alberses, duplicate periodicals and exhibition catalogues are at The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. For further information, please contact the Foundation. Materials contained within the Archive often refer to works of art in the Art Collection at The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Box and folder legend
Box X: Standard legal document box
Box OSX: Oversized materials
Box PC: Postcard boxes
R00X: Access CD-R numbers
For quick reference throughout the finding aid, Josef Albers is often referred to as JA and Anni Albers as AA.