Join us as we celebrate the upcoming centenary of the Bauhaus by visiting Tate Modern’s major retrospective on the work of iconic weaver Anni Albers.
An in-depth exploration into her incredible contribution to art and design, Tate Modern’s exhibition delves into Annie Albers’ contribution to the Bauhaus and textile design, as well as her work with the iconic design house Knoll.
Founded by the architect Walter Gropius in 1919, the Bauhaus was a revolutionary German art school created with the goal of dissolving barriers between the artistic disciplines of painting, sculpture and architecture and creating a community of artists working together.
Boasting a cohort of teachers that included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers, the Bauhaus was instrumental in redefining modernist art. After the Bauhaus was closed in 1933, it was Anni Albers and her husband Josef who transferred the same artistic approach to the Black Mountain College in North Carolina and then onto the Department of Design at Yale University.
Not immediately drawn to the art of weaving, Anni Albers began her studies at the Bauhaus in 1922 as an aspiring painter before swapping her paintbrushes for the loom. Despite its aspirations for equality, the Bauhaus barred women from certain disciplines and Anni Albers reluctantly joined the women’s only weaving workshop. It was here, under the tutelage of Gunta Stölzl, that threads gradually caught Albers’ imagination.
With a view of demonstrating the development of Albers’ distinctive style; the exhibition presents a collection of Albers’ earlier works and preparatory sketches. Playing host to meticulously drawn studies and a sound-proof material Albers created as part of her diploma piece, the exhibition also includes several lost wall hangings of her earlier work which were carefully re-woven by her former tutor Gunta Stölzl.
Exploring the possibilities of weaving as a modernist medium, Anni Albers created the concept ‘pictorial weavings’. Intricately hand-woven, these weavings were designed as artworks to be displayed on the wall and were undoubtedly influenced by the work of Bauhaus tutor Paul Klee.
Following his exercises in composition and tonal variation, Anni Albers was most inspired by his use of colour. Creating abstract images from stripes, rectangles and triangles, Albers’ geometric artworks reflect the way Klee mixed layers of watercolour on paper.
Displaying weavings framed on the walls, spread across beds and used as room dividers, the exhibition perfectly showcases the extent to which Anni Albers’ textiles were used to transform a space. Despite not transferring her skills to fashion, in 1951 Albers was approached by iconic furniture designer Florence Knoll to create new fabrics for her eponymously-named design house.
Collaborating with Knoll throughout the next thirty years, Anni Albers created open-weave fabrics such as Rail, Track and Lattice as coverings for modernist glass windows. Initially, Albers’ designs for the Eclat fabric were deemed too intricate to be replicated by Knoll and were subsequently screen-printed. Thanks to developing technology, these fabric designs have been revisited and can now be seen in their true glory at the exhibition as entirely woven textiles.
Tate Modern’s Anni Albers retrospective was available to view from 11th October 2018 until 27th January 2019. Visit Tate's website for more information about upcoming exhibitions.
Explore The Conran Shop’s carefully curated collection of Anni Albers-inspired textiles here.