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This publication considers Josef Albers’ early development as an artist, beginning with the pre-Bauhaus years when he worked as an elementary school teacher in his native Bottrop in Western Germany, while sketching the landscape and architecture of his home town and studying courses in art by night. With a particular focus on works on paper, the book reveals not only the unappreciated naturalistic origins of his art, but also his ongoing interest in producing organic, surrealistic forms alongside the geometric abstraction for which he is best known. It presents dozens of prints, paintings and drawings from the first half of his career, as well as previously unseen photographs of the artist at work and on research trips to the ancient sites of Mexico where he found important sources of inspiration for his art and theories. With texts by two recognized Albers scholars, this volume offers a fresh and surprising view of a celebrated pioneer of modernism.