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Anni Albers Looms Over Everything

The massive Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern is unmissable

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by Lee Paul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2018
Anni Albers used thread to make abstract art...

Anni Albers
Tate Modern
until Jan 27th, 2019


It's fair to say that Anni Albers accomplished more with three or fours spools of thread than I have done with the entire panoply of resources available to me in my lifetime. Anni Albers was the weaver who changed art.

Anni was born in 1899 in Berlin, into a wealthy, secure family and enjoyed such trappings as private art lessons as a kid. As a young woman she began to study textiles and at 22, after an initial rejection, was admitted to the renowned Bauhaus school of art, architecture and design.

She fell madly and enduringly in love with Josef Albers. He was older and theirs was an extraordinarily supportive union of ideas. Josef described her work as being as redolent of and as great and significant as "Klee or Mondrian... She used thread to make abstract art... Only the medium changed..." (That quote or something just like it, I found in the New York Times).

In 1933, Mies van der Rohe closed the Bauhaus. He refused to accept the nazi plans for the school. The architect Philip Johnson recommended the Albers' to the acclaimed Black Mountain College in Asheville, N.C. and they moved to the United States. 

Ann Coxon, curator of displays and international art at Tate Modern, says, “This exhibition will put Anni Albers in the spotlight, but it will also put weaving in the spotlight.”

If this exhibition doesn't have you reflecting on her incadescent brilliance and rethinking your thinking about what weavers can be, what will?

Oh my god gorgeous.... Annu Albers, Intersecting, 1962

The fabrics... Oh the wonder of the weft, the immediacy and warmth of the warp, and the deliciously delicate beauty of the brocade... Her drive to experiment, successfully, and her courage in her time makes Anni Albers' life and work so relentlessly astonishing. She changed everything.

It just could be that the Tate has assembled everything of significance, making this an unmissable opportunity to stand in the middle of history... You're gonna get G I A N T woven pieces to be hung as works of art... Or art as charmingly functional, portable architectural interventions of the pliable planes created for the Harvard Grad Centre, (designed by Walter Gropius in Cambridge, MA in the late 40s). Then there's the jewellery designed from everyday household objects that would make you think, hey lady what are you actually doing for money? And numerous examples of the little paper grids I see lying around the house, with the dots on them that are an esoteric language only weavers will understand.

Here's what this inspirational show did.  It wasn't long after getting back, in the middle of the night. From the spare room came the familiar rattling and clacking sounds of an ancient loom... Look what I found in the morning. Was that the ghost of Anni Albers working in there...

ghost
Ghost?


Anni Albers
Tate Modern
Sunday to Thursday 10.00–18.00
Friday to Saturday 10.00–22.00
Bankside, London, UK SE1 9TG
until Jan 27th, 2019


Anni Albers at the Tate

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Lee Paul

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