Anni Albers Exhibition at the Tate Modern Review

The exhibition poster byline for this Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern says it all.

South of the Border, Anni Albers, woven cotton and wool, 1958. Close up.

An artist who changed weaving. A weaver who changed art.

I appreciate when people can summarize a very large subject matter into a few words.  The exhibition was superb. It was meticulously detailed following the chronology of her life, from the Bauhaus days in Berlin as a student (where she met and married the color theorist Josef Albers who was teaching there), to Black Mountain College in North Carolina after she and her husband Josef Albers left Berlin due to the Nazi threat and the closure of the Bauhaus school, to moving to New Haven as her husband taught at Yale art school, to print making as the loom became too physically demanding. The Tate Modern had glorious examples of each time period of her life.

I had heard about Anni Abers through reading quilt blogs over the years. For obvious reasons, many quilters have gravitated to Anni Albers’s work because of the similarities of materials and her busting out of the weaving traditions, just like the modern quilters have over the past few decades. Her work is geometric and colorful. Everything quilters love. She started thinking of weaving as an art form to put on the wall. Quilters went through this same process. Annie was an innovator who has helped bring weaving into the art world. She was the first weaver to have an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1949. How did she get into weaving? The Bauhaus (male) staff steered the women students into weaving as they thought that more appropriate (!@&!#). Luckily for us, Annie thrived in the so-called “Women’s Workshop.” Once they got to Black Mountain College, Anni started teaching weaving. Some of the wives of the professors, like Anni Albers, taught classes but were never paid as staff. Anni Albers, like Josef Albers have influenced generations of future artists.

Top row: Study for DO I, DO V, and DO II, Anni Albers, Gouache on photo paper, 1973.

Bottom row: Left- Sunny, Anni Albers, cotton and linen, 1965

Bottom row: Right- Intersecting, Anni Albers, cotton and rayon, 1962.

She was an original thinker and innovator. She played with new ways to weave using the thread as sinuous lines, knots as part of the design, using different types of materials for different effects like silk for a sheen. She envisioned using textiles as divider walls, sound protection in auditoriums. She was a thinker who often thought outside of the box. I find that inspiring.

The Tate Modern has an exhibition guide with all the written material from the exhibit walls. If you like Anni Abers, this is a must.  Anni Albers Exhibition guide

The Tate Modern has Seven Life Hacks from Anni Albers. You should click that link and read it. Here is a quote from the life hacks to entice you to read it.

Well you all know how great art can affect you, you breathe differently.

Anni Albers, 1982

If you still want more, you can purchase the Anni Albers exhibition catalog which has all the images of her art from the exhibition.

Why am I adding all these links? I only touched on a few highlights of the exhibition in this article. If you are at all interested in this fascinating artist, I want you to be able to find this info. There has not been a lot of info available about Anni Albers in the past. I know because I have googled about her in the past. This is a treasure trove of insights into Anni Albers and also just how to be an original artist.


Upper row: Left- Drawing for a knot, Anni Albers, Goache on paper, 1948. Right- South of the Border, Anni Albers, woven cotton and wool, 1958.

Bottom row: Left- Red and Blue Layers, Anni Albers, cotton, 1954. Right- Black, White Yellow, designed by Anni Albers in 1926, rewoven in 1960s by Gunta Stolzl under direction of Albers since original destroyed in WW2, cotton and silk.

What inspires me?

Her use of color and texture.

Her original thinking.

Her geometric designs.

I have included some of my favorite images of the exhibit in photo collages. If you click the image, you can see a larger view. I particularly love the colors and design of South of the Border. I included a closeup to show how she bundled some of the strings together. As someone who gravitates to horizontally trending abstract landscapes, I have been thinking of how to use this piece as inspiration for my own fabric art sewing cotton fabric together. This will be fun noodling around the studio on this project.

My goal is to make you curious to learn more about Anni Albers and you have many places and links above to start your curiosity meanderings. Have fun.