Born in Südern-Linden and trained to become a teacher, he developed an interest in psychology and learning methodologies. In Vienna he founded his own school. Here he met Walter Gropius, who invited him to join the Bauhaus. Itten was one of the first professors responsible for the foundation course. During these years he published The Art of Colours. In 1923 he left the school following diverging opinions with Groupius on the direction of the school and teaching methodology, such as Mazdaznan, mysticism and meditation. In 1924 he founded the Ontos Weaving Workshops near Zurich, with the support of Stölzl. Later he moved to Berlin to found his own school, which he continued to run until the Nazi regime forced him to shut it down. He was offered a position at the textile school of Krefel teaching design. He moved back to Zurich and continued teaching textile design, while painting until 1955. He died in Zurich in 1967.