In 1933 the seven remaining members of the Bauhaus faculty decided to close the school definitively rather than to comply with the terms proposed by the Third Reich. Exile was the only option for Josef Albers and Wassily Kandinsky, who from that point on were considered "undesirable" artists in Germany. The forty-six letters in this volume are an intimate exchange between two colleagues and friends in this period when the world as they knew it was coming apart. Yet it is more a celebration of the staying powers of art than a lament. Each wrote to the other of his continuous creative evolution, while at the same time providing rich impressions of his new world. For Kandinsky, it was France, where his wife Nina enjoyed the stylishness of Paris as he entered a new avant-garde milieu but also faced the resistance of a conservative society. For Albers and his wife Anni, it was the United States, as they came to know it at the recently founded Black Mountain College in North Carolina, as well as in the lively galleries and museums of New York.
The letters between Kandinsky and Albers reveal the perpetual hunger for new adventures in painting, as well as the warmth and humour of two of the most pioneering, groundbreaking artists of the twentieth century. The different environments in which these two independent, original, and determined artists persevered are vividly brought to life. So are the two men's personalities. Whether content or anxious, Albers and Kandinsky both dropped their guard in these letters. The correspondence is unique in revealing the strength of these creative geniuses in coping with new and unexpected circumstances in life, and in elucidating the sustaining force of their artistic energies.
Nicolas Fox Weber is the executive director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and the author of 'Le Corbusier: A Life' and 'The Bauhaus Group'. Jessica Boissel is an independent writer and the former collections curator at the Musee national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.