Six Prayers (1966-7)
Anni Albers (1899- 1994) was a leading innovator of 20th Century modernist abstraction. Her work combined the ancient craft of weaving with the ideas and styles of modern art. She was a lady of many trades: an artist; a designer; teacher and a writer. The exhibition explores different aspects of her life: how her work transitions and evolved as she experienced new things as well as the processes she used to develop her ideas about textiles.
Anni Albers’s eight-harness Sructo-Artcraft 750 loom (Date unknown, wood and metal)
Her career and passion for weaving started when she began her studies at the Bauhaus (Weimar, Germany). It was her that she met her husband Josef Albers. They emigrated to the US (after the rise of Nazism in Germany resulted in the closer of the Bauhaus) where they both became teachers at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
Development in Rose II (1952- Linen)
This piece has a subtle colour palette with black used to creates accents within the weave. Lots of texture is created with small twists and knots throughout. These are achieved using a technique known as leno or gauze weave; the vertical warp threads twist over each other around the horizontal weft threads.
Top left to bottom right: Anni Albers and Alexander Reed: Necklace (c.1940- plastic rings on black grosgrain ribbon), Necklace (c.1940- Bobby pins on metal-plated chain), Necklace (c1940/88 reconstruction of the original made by Mary Emma Harris, Eye hooks and pearls on thread), Necklace (c.1940s- Aluminium washers and red grosgrain ribbon).
An interesting section of the exhibit was a glass box filled with wonderful jewellery creations by Anni and a colleague, Alexander Reed. The necklaces shown at the exhibition feature everyday objects such as bobby pins or metal washers. These pieces take items that are mundane and turn them into something unique and sophisticated. Anni Albers was definitely ahead of the times with her inventive ideas, clearly demonstrated here!
Open Letter (1958, cotton)
Featuring a wide range a weaving techniques, Open Letter is a striking monochrome piece. Accents of red are dispersed throughout, breaking up the linework that is similar to zentangling that is seen throughout illustration work popular today. Each column of the piece is constructed from little bars, each with their own personality and style.
Dotted (1959, wool)
This piece was among many ‘pictorial weavings’, created as artwork to be hung as opposed to fabric for everyday use. Utilising an ancient technique, Anni was able to create bobbles on the weave surface. The gradient of colour and the scattered placement of the dots results in a highly textured, playful piece of work.
Intersecting (1962, Cotton and rayon)
Using only four colours for the plain weave ground, a floating thread has been used to create a raised brocade effect. The unplanned nature of these threads was very pleasing to view; the organised base with the random thread creates a visual oxymoron. Work similar to this one stemmed from drawings of knots, tangled lines and mark making that Anni Albers created.
Overall, the exhibition was an excellent glimpse into the creative-mind and thought process of a lady who was an innovator, ahead of her time. This is not a display to be missed, if you get the chance to see it as it closes soon!
By Amy Pickard. All photos by Amy Pickard.
Anni Albers Exhibition
11th Oct 2018- 27th Jan 2019
53 Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Sundays to Thursdays: 10:00- 18:00
Fridays to Saturdays: 10:00- 22:00
Adults £18 / Concessions & Student £17
See the Tate Modern website for further discounted tickets and details.