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Anni Albers

German-American Textile Artist and Printmaker

Anni Albers Photo
Movements and Styles: Bauhaus, Proto-Feminist Artists

Born: June 12, 1899 - Berlin, Germany

Died: May 9, 1994 - Orange, CT, USA

"Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done: the dictation of materials."

Anni Albers Signature

Summary of Anni Albers

Born Annelise Fleischmann, Anni Albers rebelled against her comfortable upbringing to study at the Bauhaus during its most impoverished years. After finishing the foundations coursework, her choices for further study (as a female student) were limited and she began working in the weaving workshop. She quickly embraced the technical and aesthetic challenges of weaving, however, and would revolutionize both aspects of the medium with her experimentation and modern design. She also understood that the Bauhaus needed to create designs that could be industrially manufactured and while she remained committed to the handloom, she also thought of her products as prototypes for mechanical production.

Marrying Bauhaus master instructor Josef Albers in 1925, the pair was central to Bauhaus teaching and artistic production, especially after Anni became the head of the weaving workshop in 1931. When mounting pressure from the Nazi party threatened the Bauhaus, the Alberses were hired at Black Mountain College. While her husband taught a range of art classes, Anni led the weaving and textile design program until 1949, when they moved to Connecticut. There, she continued designing fabrics for mass-production, creating more artistic handloom work, and exhibiting her work to high acclaim. She also began experimenting with printmaking in 1963, after a trip to the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles. Until her death, she experimented with various printing techniques and continued her pursuit of innovative textile design.

Key Ideas

At the Bauhaus weaving workshop, Albers learned to experiment within the basic structure of weaving and textile design, becoming one of the most prolific and renown members of the workshop. As one of the few profitable workshops, the weaving workshop was central to Bauhaus's vision for the school as a laboratory for industrial innovations, creating new designs for mass production that would bring together good design and modern materials.
Albers made her mark on the Bauhaus, the weaving art form, and the conception of "women's" crafts with her innovations. Beyond the integration of abstract modernism into textile weavings, Albers also introduced new technologies to the weaving workshop. When the Bauhaus won a commission for the Bundesschule des Allgemeinen Deutschen Gerwekschaftsbundes (ADGB) School, it was a testing ground for their ability to craft industrially feasible designs. Albers developed a set of textiles for the ADGB auditorium, using different types of synthetic fibers and cellophane to create acoustic panels. Her research into these materials influenced the manufacturing of similar panels and led to new innovations in theater design.
In 1949, the Museum of Modern Art, New York exhibited Albers' work, making her the first designer to have a solo exhibition there. This show then traveled throughout America, showcasing her weavings to a large audience and cementing her reputation as the leading textile designer in the country.

Anni Albers Artist Overview Page

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