Anni Albers at Tate Modern

2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

We loved this show: the first major retrospective of the work one of the leaders of the Modernist Expressionist Art movement.  Born Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann, Albers became a student at The Bauhaus School in 1922 where she met her husband Josef Albers.  Although Bauhaus aspired to equality between the sexes, women were still discouraged from learning certain disciplines such as painting.  So instead, Albers was directed to the weaving department – often referred to as the ‘Women’s Workshop’. Albers’ initially thought weaving was ‘rather sissy’ but it soon proved a fortuitous  introduction for it was through textiles that she shone, using thread ‘as a sculptor or painter uses his medium’.

She was particularly revolutionary in her use of modern materials – her 1930 diploma piece was partly constructed of cellophane, a new invention which allowed the material to be both sound-absorbent and light-reflective. She did extensive research, later travelling to Peru and Mexico when she and her husband moved to the States, collecting ancient textile examples (many of which are shown in the exhibition) and looked both to old weaving traditions and modern techniques to make new designs.  As a result, her approach helped to redefine weaving less as ‘craft’ and more as ‘fine art’.

Adrian Searle wrote in The Guardian this week that ‘it is rare to come from an exhibition so buoyed up, so ravished and so covetous as I did after seeing Anni Albers at Tate Modern’ (read his full review here). And he isn’t Alber’s only fan.  Paul Smith has created a capsule collection inspired by her textile designs and is giving a talk on the artist on Saturday 17th November at 3pm which we highly recommend. You can sign up for the talk here.

11 October 2018 - 27 January 2019
Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG
— Francesca
10th October 2018