1899 - 1994 · Germany
Anni Albers was a German-born American textile artist and designer who is credited as being the first person to transform the act of weaving into an art form. A true pioneer in her field, she blurred the lines between traditional craft and art. Her seminal publication ‘On Weaving’ (1965) has become an inspirational read for artists and craftsmen and remains a popular resource to this day.
Born in 1899 in Berlin, Germany, Albers pursued an artistic career by attending the Bauhaus school in 1922, but found that there were limitations on the subjects she could study as not all classes were open to women. She reluctantly took up weaving, but found that the act of weaving won her over. She continued with it as a discipline and soon developed geometric designs, and through her innovative methods, she became well known in her field and was commissioned for a number of wall hangings. By 1931, she had become head of the weaving workshop, and had married fellow Bauhaus member Josef Albers. The couple fled to the United States at the start of the Second World War, and continued their studies at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1933. At Black Mountain, Albers elaborated on the technical innovations she devised at the Bauhaus and developed a focused method that integrated weaving and industrial design.
Albers worked primarily in the form of textiles throughout her career, and focused on printmaking later in life. She combined traditional and industrial methods, incorporating unconventional materials into her weavings such as paper, horse hair and cellophane. She experimented widely with colour, scale and shape, creating abstract and crossing geometric patterns that garnered her recognition as a pioneer in her field. Her printmaking work was equally as experimental, and she explored the limits and possibilities of the art form.
Albers became the first textile designer to hold a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1949, and in 1961 she was awarded the Craftmanship Medal by the American Institute of Architects. She exhibited extensively throughout her career and her legacy continues to this day, through the support of the Josef and Anni Albers foundation which the couple founded in 1971. Albers’ work has been shown in recent years at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, the David Zwirner Gallery in New York, and at the Tate Modern gallery in London where a major retrospective of her work was held in 2018.