Annie Albers

Five go Weaving

Ange Mullins came up with the idea of going to see Anni Albers and other things at the Tate Modern. I had no idea who Anni Albers was, but I could do a bit of research meantime, and I needed to go to the Tate Modern to look at the Green Donkey by Chagall that had cropped up in my research for my course. The third of January seemed like a good day as I was on holiday from work.

Before we met, I had done a bit of research and read the catalogue of the exhibition and was rather looking forward to it.

Ange, Emma Linda Jane and myself convened in the Cafe at the Tate where there was a lively discussion of our progression on our respective courses before going on to view the exhibition.

Anni was married to Josef Albers but the show wasn’t about that, believe it or not, Josef was a bit player in this story, this story was about Anni’s greatness as an artist, and what a story it was. Anni studied at the Bauhaus in the 1920’s, and became the first person to receive the weaving diploma at the Bauhaus in February 1930 (Coxton et al p54) and went on to have a solo exhibition of her work at the MoMA in 1949.

Anni initially didn’t want to be a weaver she thought it was sissy, but being a woman at the Bauhaus she was directed to the weaving or women’s workshop, undaunted she conquered the loom, which appears to be an incredibly difficult animal to tame, and designed and made beautifully intricate work.

Her degree piece was the invention of a woven sound proof shimmering fabric that was used to line the walls of the Auditorium of the Trade Union Hall in Bernau Germany. With the rise of Nazism and the close of the Bauhaus in 1933, this invention turned out to be her and Josef’s Passport to America, where they taught at the Black Mountain School until 1949.

In the late 1960’s when she stopped weaving she turned her hand to printmaking where she achieved further success.

My favourite piece in the exhibition was the La Luz II tapestry shimmering threads of silver and gold from 1958 but I was seriously taken aback by the Six Prayers commemorating the six million victims of the holocaust.

The exhibition naturally raised the question of the relationship between Craft and Art but in the words of Mr Hockney,” You can teach the craft, its the poetry you can’t.”

It took me a while to work out the process of weaving and it was only when I saw Anni’s loom at the end of the exhibition that I worked it out. The loom has 8 gears(?) which allow various numbers of threads of the weft to be raised or lowered to form the pattern in the weave.

In the video below by Rosa Parks she uses a computer assisted loom, I wondered what the computer was doing. Only after seeing Anni’s loom did I realise that Anni did the computers job mentally and manually impeccably. I wasn’t wearing my hat but if I was, that was the moment to take it off for Anni.

Bibliography

Books

Coxon, A. Fer, B. and Moller-Schareck, M. (2018) Anni Albers. London: Tate Publishing.

The Exhibition

Tate Gallery (2018-19) Anni Albers. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/anni-albers (Accessed 30/12/18)

Tate Gallery (2018-19) Anni Albers Exhibition Guide. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/anni-albers/exhibition-guide (Accessed 30/12/18)

What the press said

Searle. A (2018) Anni Albers Review-Ravishing textiles that Beg to be touched. At: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/oct/09/anni-albers-tate-modern-review (Accessed 30/12/18)

Brennan, A. (2018) Tate Moderns Anni Albers Exhibition Five things you need to know about the Artist. At: https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/tate-modern-anni-albers-exhibition-a3957636.html (Accessed 30/12/18)

Nayeri, F. (2018) At the Tate Modern, an Anni Albers Retrospective. At:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/arts/tate-modern-anni-albers-retrospective.html (Accessed 30/12/18)

Farrell, A. (2018) Ten things to know about Anni Albers. At: https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/10-things-to-know-about-anni-albers (Accessed 30/12/18)

Research

Joseph and Anni Albers Foundation (S.d.) Joseph and Anni Albers Foundation. At:  https://albersfoundation.org/ (Accessed 30/12/18)

Pearks, R. (2018) How to weave like Anni Albers. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/anni-albers-3067/how-weave-anni-albers (Accessed 30/12/18)

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