Anni Albers: In Thread and On Paper
February 11, 2024
June 30, 2024
About the Exhibition
Anni Albers (1899–1994) is considered the most important textile artist of the 20th century. Known for her wall hangings, weavings, and designs, she was also an innovative educator and printmaker.
Anni Albers: In Thread and On Paper highlights how nimbly Albers moved between mediums—including her shift from weaving to printmaking in the 1960s—and transitioned between making art and designing functional and commercial objects. Drawn from the collection of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the exhibition focuses on groundbreaking work from the last 40 years of her life. In addition to Albers’s woven rugs, tapestries, drawings, and prints, the exhibition features her loom and wallpaper based on her designs.
In weaving, designing, and printmaking, Albers’s faith in the power of abstraction never wavered. She understood material not only as a vehicle to carry ideas, but more importantly for its physical and structural potential. As she put it, “If we want to get from materials the sense of directness, the adventure of being close to the stuff the world is made of, we have to go back to the material itself, to its original state, and from there on partake in its stages of change.”
This exhibition is curated by Fritz Horstman, education director at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. The Blanton presentation is organized by Claire Howard, Associate Curator, Collections and Exhibitions.
Members get free admission.
Anni Albers made dense patterns of triangles in hundreds of drawings, using only gridded paper and pencil. You can make your own designs using this gridded table and white triangle tiles. Try to copy the patterns of the prints reproduced here or come up with something completely new. If you’re happy with what you’ve made, take a photo, and tag it #AlbersBlanton.
About Anni Albers
Born in Berlin in 1899, Annelise Fleischmann’s early desire to be an artist led her in 1922 to the Bauhaus, the famous German school of art and design. At the Bauhaus she met a fellow student, Josef Albers, whom she married in 1925. The Bauhaus was among the first art schools in Germany to accept both men and women, though most women, including Anni, were placed in the weaving workshop. It was there that her genius with threads first started to show itself, as she created masterful designs for textiles and rugs, and eventually ran the workshop for a short period.
The Bauhaus closed in 1933 under pressure from the Nazis. The Alberses accepted teaching positions at the newly formed Black Mountain College, a small, progressive liberal arts school outside Asheville, North Carolina. At Black Mountain, Anni began to focus her weaving practice on what she called her pictorial weavings, which she intended to transcend the medium’s everyday, useful connotations and move into the realm of pure art.
After sixteen years at Black Mountain College, the couple left North Carolina in 1949. In that same year, Anni became one of the first female artists to have a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which was also that museum’s first solo exhibition of a textile artist. When Josef was made Chair of the Department of Design at Yale University in 1950, the couple moved to Connecticut. Anni’s first prints were made in 1963 and by 1969 she had transitioned entirely from weaving to printmaking. The Alberses lived in New Haven, Connecticut, until 1970, and then in nearby Orange until Josef’s death in 1976 and Anni’s in 1994.
Anni Albers: In Thread and On Paper is organized by The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Feature Image Credit
Anni Albers, Triangulated Intaglio IV, 1976, single-color copper plate etching on paper, 13 x 11 7/8 in., The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 1994.11.39.AP2 (photo: © 2023 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)