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Anni Albers

Albers at Loom

Anni Albers in her weaving studio at Black Mountain College, 1937. Photograph by Helen M. Post, courtesy of the Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Also known as
Annelise Elsa Frieda Fleischmann
Date of birth
Date of death

“She was weaving textiles that didn’t appear to be utilitarian. It seemed to me she was giving meaning and expression to this soft, pliable material.”

Sheila Hicks on Anni Albers, 2004

Devoted to exploring the perceived limits of textiles as avenues for play and experimentation, Anni Albers dedicated most of her artistic career to weaving. Her drawings, jewelry, prints, and extensive writings reiterate her innovative approach across a range of media. Many of her sketches and weavings, such as Black-White-Red, feature a grid—a ubiquitous motif in modern art and an essential tool for weavers as they plan and document their work.

In 1922, Albers enrolled at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Established in 1919, the Bauhaus was a progressive art school that integrated art, craft, and design, proclaiming architecture as the ultimate form of art. Albers studied and taught weaving there for over a decade. In 1933, she fled Germany to escape Nazi persecution and immigrated to the United States, where she and her husband, Josef, also an artist, taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Albers’s tenure there would connect her to influential artists such as Ruth Asawa, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Claire Zeisler. In 1949, the Alberses moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where Anni continued to weave, travel, and connect with fellow artists, including the eminent Sheila Hicks, at the time a burgeoning weaver. In the 1960s, Albers left weaving to focus on drawing and printmaking. However, many of her later works feature grids and threads, suggesting an ongoing preoccupation with textiles.

In 2019, the centenary of the Bauhaus in Germany, the Art Institute presented two exhibitions highlighting Albers’s work and those of her contemporaries: In a Cloud, In a Wall, In a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury and Weaving beyond the Bauhaus.

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