Anni Albers was an influential textile artist and modernist, involved with two of the most important centres of 20th century art, The Bauhaus art school in Germany and Black Mountain College in the USA. This wide ranging exhibition at Tate Modern shines a light on her brilliant talent.
On entering the exhibition you are immediately confronted by a large weaving loom, an insanely complicated looking machine, capable of producing works of beautiful finesse when in the hands of someone like Albers.
Initially strong geometric patterns with a limited colour palette are presented to us, these are designed as wall hangings. We see the meticulous planning that goes into these pieces, as they are designed using graph paper before then being set for the loom. We also see a room divider which was her graduation piece at The Bauhaus. There is also some fantastic jewellery which foresaw the rise of punk fashion by using pins and everyday object to create striking pieces, long before the denizens of the Kings Road in London started to create their own Punk Rock fashions.
As we know the dark cloud of the Nazi party sat heavily over the Bauhaus, so in 1933 when the school was finally closed, she and her husband Josef, moved to America and found their home in the legendary experimental Black Mountain College.
Here she established a weaving workshop and started to produce art to be hung on walls, rather than fabrics for everyday use. Influences from other cultures come into the work. Lines deviate from the straight to free flowing. Colours and textures surge forward from the previous flat surfaces.
This comes sharply to focus on the piece called “Six Prayers”, a memorial to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. Although from a Jewish family, she was baptised as a Protestant. The text on the wall contains the chilling phrase, that she saw herself as Jewish only “in the Hitler sense”.
We also see other examples of her work being used for interior design, with an architectural feel for commissions around the globe.
Her work continues to develop and even when the physically demanding aspect of weaving is too much for her, she moves into printmaking, with beautiful results.
There is much to enjoy and take inspiration from, in the work of this talented, inventive, creative force. The exhibition runs until 27 Jan 2019.