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Anni Albers

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By Nicholas Fox Weber and

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Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi *

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With

contributions by Kelly Feeney,

Jean-Paul Leclercq, and Virginia Gardner Troy

Anni Albers (1899-1994) foremost

is

K--

*.

'

considered the

designer of our century. Albers,

textile

one of the

central figures of the

Workshop

at the

effect

-

Weaving

Bauhaus, had an enormous

worldwide on the design of yard materials

i

;

es?:

and on the creation of singular weavings and wall hangings. This catalogue, accompanying a centennial retrospective of her work, brings to light a

wide selection of her weavings, drapery

materials,

and wall coverings

as well as the

••'

^_

preparatory studies and graphic works that

accompanied them. In addition

s'

'

to full-color

reproductions of Albers's most important works, it

also includes

documentation of scores of

her highly influential textile designs. Scholars Virginia Gardner Troy and Jean-Paul Leclerq

explore the significance of her

work

in the -

context of the history of Western and pre-

Columbian

textile design;

'J

Kelly Feeney discusses

her important commission of ark panels for

Temple Emanu-El

in Dallas;

and Albers scholar

Nicholas Fox Weber provides an insightful

memoir of the

artist's

A

the graphic

arts.

chronology

details

and as

career in

exploration late in

comprehensive

Anni

famed painter and

artist

of

H

'

I

Albers's fascinating life

Germany and

an independent

life

illustrated

and

in

America, both

as the wife

of the

instructor Josef Albers.

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Anni Albers


Anni Albers Nicholas Fox Weber

and Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM


Published on the occasion of the exhibition

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice,

Anni Albers,

organized by Nicholas Fox

March 24-May 24, 1999 Museum, Bottrop,

Weber

Josef Albers

and Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi

June I2-August

Musee

29, 1999

des Arts Decoratifs, Paris,

September 20-December

The Jewish Museum, New February 27-June

Š

Front cover

Drapery material,

ca. 1944.

by Philip Johnson house,

New

Commissioned

1999

The Solomon

New

Foundation,

R.

4,

for Rockefeller guest

York. Plastic, copper

toil,

and

All

works by Anni Albers and Joset Albers

York, Gift of Anni Albers 1970. 75.10a.

by permission.

Back cover

ISBN 0-89207-218-0 (softcover)

Anni Albers

90.5

at

2000

Guggenheim

Š

X

1999

The

Josef and

Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut. Used

Black Mountain College,

All rights reserved.

ISBN 0-8109-6923-8 (hardcover)

near Asheville, North Carolina, 1947,

Guggenheim Museum

photographed by Nancy Newhall.

1071 Fifth

Publications

Avenue

New York, NewYork

10128

Frontispiece

Josef Albers, Pazcuaro, date

unknown.

Hardcover edition distributed by

Collage of twenty contact prints,

Harry N. Abrams

mounted on cardboard, 25.4 x 20.3 cm (10 X 8 inches). The Josef and Anni Albers

100 Fifth Avenue

New

York,

New

York looii

Foundation, Bethany JAF:PH-553. Design: Nathan Garland

Production: Esther Editor: Jennifer

The

operations and programs of the Peggy

Guggenheim

Yun

Knox- White

Collection are supported by:

INTRAPRES^ COLLEZIONE GUGGENHEIM Aermec

iGuzzini Illuminazione Istituto Poligraficoe

Arclinea

Automotive Products

Zecca dello Stato

Leo Burnett

Italia

Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta

Lubiam I9n

Barbero 1891

Luciano Marcato

Bisazza

Rex Built-in

DEW AG

Safilo

Gretag Imaging Group

Swatch

Gruppo 3M Italia Gruppo Imation Italia

Wella

Group

Zucchi-Ba.ssetti

Group

Management by Bondardo C'omunicazione

The

trustees of the

Solomon

R.

Ciuggenhcim Foundation gratefully

acknowledge the Regione Veneto operation o( the Peggy

Offi cial carrie

1999

York. All rights reserved

cm (39 x 35 Vs inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New cotton, 99

31,

York,

for the

Guggenheim

r/llitalia

annual subsidy that assures the effective

Collection.


9

Introduction

Contents

Nicholas Fox Weber

28

Thread

as Text:

The Woven Work of Anni Virginia Gardner Iroy

64

On

the Structure

of the

Weavings

Jea)i-Pattl Leclercq

94

Constructing Textiles

Anni Albers

118

Anni

Albers:

Devotion

to Material

Kelly Feeney

124

The Last Bauhausler Nicholas Fox Weber

152

Anni Albers 1899-1994 Pandora I'abatahai Asbaghi

Albcrs


The Solomon

Preface

Guggenheim Foundation

R.

Thomas Krens

which

Director,

Foundation

is

Guggenheim

to present the

and

in Europe,

story

first

do

to

and her

art,

often overshadowed by that of her husband, Josef belong firmly

in the fabric R.

proud

shown

Her Httle-known

so in the centenary year of her birth.

The Solomon

is

retrospective of the art of Anni Albers to be

weavings.

of twentieth-century Modernism,

It is

a

remarkably pure but

by some of the dramatic events that took place

two world wars and her emigration

one of her

like a thread in

and humane

lively

touched

story,

Germany between

in

to a strange land, the

This exhibition has been made possible above

United

all

the

States.

by the Josef and

Anni Albers Foundation and by its indefatigable director, Nicholas Fox Weber, who, with Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi, organized this exhibition. While thanking them personally for their leadership of the project, I also want to acknowledge how full a partnership with the Albers Foundation this exhibition has been.

loans from

its

expertise of

its

The

collections

excellent staff This

Guggenheim Foundation Foundation.

Albers Foundation has generously

Our

not the

is

time that the

first

has had the pleasure of working with the Albers

previous collaborations include two highly successful and

distinguished exhibitions of the

which originated

made

and has contributed the time and unmatchable

in 1988 at the

work of Josef Albers, a full retrospective, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in

New York, as well as a show devoted to his works in glass, which was shown at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice in 1994 and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1995. Furthermore, we owe the presence of important paintings and photographs by Josef Albers Guggenheim's collections to the extraordinary generosity of the

in the

Albers Foundation.

My particular gratitude goes the Metropolitan

Museum

many important

of which have made

to

two

of Art and the

New

York

Museum

of

institutions,

Modern

professional staffs was vital to the success of this presentation.

who

other lenders to the exhibition, this catalogue,

After

Albers Paris,

I

it

Museum

my

wish to express

in Bottrop,

most sincere thanks.

Germany, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs

and the Jewish Museum to be

New York.

in

Kleeblatt and his colleague Susan

as

is

has been the Peggy

all

those

who

at

in

Norman

those institutions.

Guggenheim Collection

are

generously provide annual funds

gratefully noted elsewhere. For

Guggenheim

in

an honor for the

Marie-Claude Beaud, and

Chevlowe

Exhibitions presented at the Peggy inconceivable without

It is

working with these museums, and

particular with Ulrich Schumacher,

its activities,

To the many

are listed individually elsewhere in

closes in Venice, the exhibition will travel to the Josef

Guggenheim Foundation

for

Art, both

loans; the cooperation of their

many

years, Alitalia

Collection's official airline; the Regione

Veneto has provided an annual subsidy since

1981; the loyal

and enthusiastic

Advisory Board of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, presently led by Luigi Moscheri, has been a key part of the collection's success in the

eighteen years since

it

joined the

the Intrapress Collezione

European corporations, earmark cultural

Guggenheim Foundation; and

finally,

Guggenheim, numbering twenty distinguished their

annual support specifically to the

programs of the collection. Thank you to them

all.


How

appropriate that this major retrospective exhibition, the most complete

show

ever of Anni Albers's art,

hundredth anniversary of the

Guggenheim

the Peggy

which has been organized

artist's birth,

was

a perpetual explorer

and

left

sort

Nicholas Fox Weber

Ciuggenheim

Albers, Peggy

and adventurer, someone who broke down

behind the potential ease of one

barriers

devoted to

life

Foundation

art.

thanks to the extraordinary steward of Peggy's legacy, the engaged and

engaging Philip Rylands, Deputy Director of the Pegg\' Guggenheim GoUection, that

We

feel

this

show has been made

profound gratitude

of thought. At the

Pegg\'

him

to

possible

Guggenheim, we

and

and

tor his vision

that

it

opens

in Venice.

his perpetual clarity

are also gratefiil to

Renata Rossani,

who

Chiara Barbieri, Beate Earner, Glaudia Rech, and Sandra Divari,

have

undertaken a range of responsibilities with tremendous grace and energy.

The subsequent venues in Bottrop,

Germany,

is

years

fifty

and

to the

director, the splendid

Musee des

the fore.

It

nil

and where

because of

is

Marie-Glaude Beaud

woman one

a

its

and

brilliance have

is

and tenacious

success assured by

Development; Dominique

however particular

certain Anni,

would have loved

that this exhibition

Anne de Rougement,

Pallut, Exhibitions

has

art

been brought to

director, the exuberant, perceptive,

its

in her personal preferences,

splendid place, with

originalit)'

an

and

Arts Decoratifs in

time and again the place where the distinction of craft and

been rendered

of

Then on

art

of Anni's

a kunsthalle for the finest abstract

of the century, under the expert guidance of its patient Ulrich Schumacher.

Museum

Josef Albers

both the great showcase for the

husband and partner of

Paris,

The

are equally fitting.

fills

that

Director

Department Manager; and

Jean-Paul Leclercq, conservateur en chef du patrimoine charge des collec-

XlXe siecle. And finally the Jewish Museum in New home of Edward M. M. Warburg, the patron who, quietly

tions anterieures au

York, once the

and

background, paid the Alberses' steamship

in the

States in the

Bauhaus.

harrowing period

Thirt)' years later,

it

after the

and powerful Six

United

Gestapo padlocked the doors of the

was the farsighted institution

the patronage of Vera List, awarded for the elegiac

fare to the

Anni her most

Norman

Prayers.

that,

significant

thanks to

commission,

and

Kleeblatt, Susan

Elihu Rose Curator of Eine Arts, and Susan Chevlowe, Associate Curator of Fine Arts, are the open-minded and spirited individuals to

whom we

have

thank for 1109 Fifth Avenue again being Anni's sanctuary in America.

At each of those institutions the support with

Equal thanks go to those

Museum

of Art in

New

at

Department

Museum

the

York, without

have been possible. At the the

staff has tackled this project

and devotion that has made every stage of the work

flair

Museum

of Architecture

of

a pleasure.

Modern Art and Metropolitan

whom

this project

would not

of Modern Art, one must thank,

in

and Design, Matilda McQuaid, Associate

Curator; Luisa Lorch, Cataloguer; and Lynda Zycherman, Associate Conser\'ator; at the Metropolitan Assistant,

Department

Museum of Art,

Jane Adlin, Curatorial

of Twentieth Centur\- Decorative Arts;

the Antonio Ratti Textile Center of the Metropolitan

Conservator

Kajitani,

Gae design that

is

Aulenti

in

and

at

Museum, Nobuko

Charge, and F^lena Phipps, Conservator

so alert to Anni's vision; like Anni, so focused

"anonymous and

herself forward; so thorough

timeless

"

rather than

and quietly assured

is

any attempt

to

on

push

responsible not only for

many of its underlving precepts. Gae's office staff has been wonderful. In particular, we owe profuse thanks to the architect Massimiliano Caruso, who has managed the inordinately complex the appearance of this show, but for

details

of

textile

presentation with infinite patience and diligence, and to the

architect Francesca Eenaroli, for her continuous strength

Executive Director,

The Josefand Anni Albers

of existence for the supreme

pleasures, as well as the never-ending challenges, of a It is

Acknowledgments

should have been initiated by

Anni

C'ollcction. Like

honor oi the

in

and professionalism.


Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi, co-curator of the breadth and depth of

its

contents,

Anni's persona along with her

art.

this exhibition, sculpted

and expanded

its

concept to include

Pandora has done so with

flair

and

insight,

with the "open eyes" so cherished by both Josef and Anni, and with rare energy and imagination. In compiling the chronology, Tirso Eduard Wiegel provided Pandora with much-appreciated administrative assistance.

Nathan Garland, the designer

of this book, has seen, with spectacular

conscientiousness and attentiveness, to the creation of a publication that

we hope, not only

functions, to

an exhibition catalogue but

as

He was

approach Anni Albers in adequate range.

Chase and Karin Krochmal. Katharine Weber,

as the first

volume

ably assisted by Gregg

as editor

of some of the

text,

has tackled difficult tasks with acuity and great finesse.

Great thanks also go to Anthony Calnek, Director of Publications the

Guggenheim,

humor

in overseeing the

complexity.

am

I

many

at

guidance and constant patience and good

for his superb

stages of assembling this publication in

all its

Managing Editor/Manager of

also gratefiil to Elizabeth Levy,

Foreign Editions; Jennifer Knox- White; Esther Yun, Assistant Production

Manager; and Liza Donatelli, Administrative and Editorial

Assistant.

Brenda Danilowitz, chief curator of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, has, more than anyone

made

else,

this

undertaking a

Her

reality.

attention to detail has been nothing short of staggering, her thoroughness

and

alertness,

even under circumstances of intense pressure, amazing.

It is

impossible to enumerate the tasks she accomplished with fortitude and care,

show would not have been possible without her. Others on the staff of the Albers Foundation have also played

quite simply, this

specifically in the imaginative effects.

essen-

Jackie Ivy, our curatorial associate, has helped in myriad ways,

tial roles.

and

Craig Taylor, curatorial

effective presentation

and

of Anni's personal

and Terry Tabaka, building superin-

assistant,

tendent, have been inordinately helpful in seeing to

vital details

pertaining to

the care of the objects. Phyllis Fitzgerald, our administrative assistant, has,

with her professionalism,

as well as the history

of her long friendship with

Anni, been an invaluable support. Camilla Lyons, an intern, did considerable research for the catalogue chronology.

Kelly Feeney, for

many

years a curator at the foundation,

responsible not only for a re-organization of our

documentation, but also for our success missing or

of time, she did insight. Sarah

this,

and much

Lowengard, the

in re-locating,

over a long period

with intense personal devotion and

else,

textile conservator,

consummate professionalism and with utmost wisdom and generosity.

themselves with advice

and re-acquiring

known and admired Anni

weavings; having

lost

was

Anni Albers holdings and

has cared for the objects skill

and provided

essential

Bobbie Dreier, the dearest of friends to both Anni and Josef Albers

from the moment of their

done more

for this

arrival in

America

in

November

show than she can imagine. She

of 1933, has

has unearthed

Anni's most thrilling hardware jewelry as well as other of the

handmade as always, I

objects, provided reminiscences

brought true joy to

am

all

both

telling

artist's

ways

to

my

of

splendid

and amusing, and,

of us engaged in Anni's work and

also grateful in countless

some

life.

fellow directors of the

Albers Foundation, John Eastman and Charles Kingsley, for their unflagging

support and generosity.

been an angel

who

And

As Anni declared is

always an "and."

century, of a a

On

any others, be

it

at

Hans Farman,

has, as always,

in her favorite

1

quotation from Kandinsky, there

behalf of one of the true pioneers of the twentieth

woman whose

wonderful friend,

Anni's brother,

has provided what no one else could have supplied.

integrity

repeat the

was on

a par

with her

words Anni Albers loved

talent,

to utter

and of

more than

ceremonial occasions or everyday moments: thank you.


Why

Anni Albers?

To begin

Introduction

with, she transformed textiles as an art form. Anni elevated the

woven threads and put the mediimi on equal footing with oil on canvas and watereolor on paper. And so Buckminster Fuller declared, "Anni Albers, more than any other weaver, has succeeded in exciting mass realization of the complex structure of fabrics. She has brought the artist's intuitive sculpturing faculties and the agelong weaver's arts into status of

Nicholas Fox Weber

historical successful marriage."'

She took up weaving a

full-Hedged

her,

artist, just like

Anni had wanted

reluctantly.

men who

the

but circumstances and certain unalterable

even though she

in the way. Yet

felt

that she

Paul Klee and

\'asil\'

of abstract art

when

Kandinsk\' had accomplished it

was

still

wall hangings of incomparable If weavers

realities of

her milieu got

had been forced into

medium what

she did her utmost to achieve with the

to be a painter,

attended the Bauhaus around

in paint. .A

pioneer

concept, in the 1910s, she

a radical

power and

and

Hair

textiles,

her heroes like

made

visual excitement.

of previous generations had replicated the flower patterns and

decorative motifs that were prescribed for the form, Anni used her yarns to create "visual resting places" (a term she

borrowed from one of her

Wilhelm Worringer), which are as calming and diverting as they infinitely rich and complex. Anni's textile compositions put in visual

heroes, are

form aspects of the natural world and of philosophical thought that reflected her endlessly probing, inventive

The

direct effects

fiir-reaching. Abstract wall

and echoes

mind.

of her daring search ha\e been

come

hangings have

to flourish as an art form.

become completely acceptable for thread to be its own voice, to have no obligation to represent anything other than itself. And in her own, extremely small body of work, she made individual masterpieces It

has

weavings that inspire meditation enrich the

lives

And what

a

do

brave

that profoundly

fix,

I.

woman Anni

was! She

left

the comforts of her

the unprecedented at the Bauhaus. She married a

other side of the tracks in art.

to

quick

who wanted man from the

upbringing to join those daring souls

Itixurious bourgeois to

as well as a

of their viewers.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

because they shared a consuming faith

in part

Their joint pursuit of technical and aesthetic heights counted more

them than anything

to represent to

embody and moral and human standards. The making came both

else in life; the visual

them the highest

of art was the means and the goal that enabled

this

to

wonderful couple

not just to survive, but also to thrive, in spite of the sometimes desperate vicissitudes

of their existence,

duress were a

realit)'.

which Nazism,

in

illness,

and

financial

Their accomplishments triumphed.

Anni's marriage to Josef Albers that she holds for us. Neither of

is,

of course, part of the fascination

them bought

into any of the cliches that

on the subject. Sometimes Anni of downtrodden wife, but then she would disparage

others might have tried to promulgate

would assume

the role

the progress potentially offered by feminism.

whom,

there

is

no

single

answer

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

On

same

cause. Integrity, hard work, the serenity

at

best, the deliberate

its

distract

them from

their

ongoing and

Not only did Anni

who

influenced

and strength afh)rded bv

avoidance of those sides of the

of trendiness and corrupt values:

some

the issue of

except that both were believers in the

this

art

diligent search, the

mutual loathing

was what the Alberses cared

create individual objects that hold

of the finest abstract paintings of the century, but she

art

world that might

up

made

for.

against

functional

materials of incomparable subtlet\ and richness as well as practical

Anni Albers, Dessau,

ca. 1929,

photographed by Umbo.


2.

Josef and

Anni

Albers, Oberstdort,

Germany, 1927-28.

3.

Anni and Josef AJbers,

1942,

photographed by Ted Dreier.

10


A

effectiveness.

made an auditorium — —was sound-absorbing and

wall covering she

earned her a Bauhaus diploma

tor

the piece that

light-reHecting

while unimaginably modern and soothing to look

at.

The

air

and

light

that Howed through a space divider she designed were as essential to piece as its wooden strips, dowel, and thread. .Another wall covering

concealed

And

nail holes.

in all

extolled equally; the synthetic

approach was forever

of

this the

the

machine and handweaving were

was revered alongside the natural. Anni's

original, ba.sed

more on her own

and understanding than on .iinthing

olxservations

in the air, .iiul she

was wondertullv

able to surprise us.

Anni's influence was vast. She directly affected her students at

two of the in

greatest art institutions of the twentieth century

Weimar and

North

C^arolina

and Black Mountain College near

Des.sau,

—and, through

her

work and writing and and guided

of her thoughts worldwide, she inspired artists in directions that

And

have

quite late in

life

now become

the

Bauhaus

Asheville,

the dissemination

a large

number

of

part of the mainstream.

she became a printmaker who, in collaboration

with some of the leading technicians of the medium, blended screenprint with photo-offset, used the processes of etching, shifted and overprinted plates,

and drenched lithographic stones

such startling and

in acid, in

original

ways that time and again she achieved the unprecedented, while

making

art that

is

as fascinating

No wonder and." That

as

it

was brave.

and

a writer

aesthetic philosopher she was.

on

D«/^//>/^^ invariably has readers exclaiming

Her cultured and educated

voice, nourished as

it

its

Her book

strength and eloquence.

was by the wisdom and

temperance of the Enlightenment and Goethe, was infused with reticence

so

I

always an

is

verity certainly applied to her.

And what

On

and engaging

she so often quoted Kandinsky's, "There

and modesty. "The good designer

believe, the

one who does not stand

is

a Zen-like

1.

in the

appearance.

A

way

to a useful life

useful object should

perform

(What would she have made of today's and the conspicuous display encapsulation of

The

its

reality

examine

it,

its

without an ambitious

duty without

Her

faith in art,

ado."'

3.

it is endless. It

to us as

never ending. As

and the

we

obeys laws never totally lucid to our

understanding.

The

reality

of art

as completion

Art

Who

is

is

concluded in

itself. It sets

up

its

own

laws

of vision.

constant

and

else has articulated

it is

complete.'

such ideas

as succinctly or

"Design:

"Art

Press, 1959).

Anonymous

— A Constant"

pp. 47-48-

was nothing short of marvelous.

of nature will appear

Amii Albcrs,

.uid

I

inuless"

(1946), in ibid., pp. b-~.

obsession with designers' logos

of designers' names?)

possibilities,

much

j.ickci ot

Designing (Middlctown, C^onn.:

Wesleyan University 2.

sends his products on their

Quoted on back

On

anonymous designer, way of the material; who

the

engagingly?

II

(1939), in ibid.,


4-

Wall hanging, 1924.

Cotton and

{66% X 39X The

silk,

169.6

x

100.3

cm

inches).

Josef and

Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany.

^Miimd


5-

VC'all

hant;ing, 1925.

Wool and silk, 236 x 96 cm inches). (92 X X 37 Die Neue Sammlung St.uuliches 'X<.

n

Museum

tiir

Munich

^64/26.

angewandtc Kunst,


6.

Wall hanging, 1925.

Silk, cotton,

and

acetate,

145 X 92 cm (57 X X 36 -Ab inches). Die Neue Sammlung Staatliches

Museum

fiir

Munich

363/26.

7.

angewandte Kunst,

Wall hanging, 1926.

X

cm

Silk,

X 48 inches). The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, 182.9

122

(72

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Association

Fund BR

48.132.

14


15


8.

Preliminary design for a wall

hanging, 1926. Gouache and pencil

on

paper, 34.9

(13

K X

II /ÂŤ

x

29.5

inches).

of Modern Art,

cm

The Museum

New York,

Gift of the designer 397.51.

16


HI

ann^ia* alters entvmrf

fiir

3.

26.

jacriuard

1. 9.

Preliminary design tor a wall

hanging, 1926. Gouache and pencil

on paper, (10

X

25.4

x

8 inches).

Modern

Art,

20.3

cm

The Museum of

New York,

Gift of the designer 398.51.

17


lo.

Design

for a jacquard weaving,

1926. Watercolor and gouache

on

paper, 34.3

(13

X X iiK

x

28.6

cm

inches).

The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gift of Anni Albers 48.46.

Annl Albere 113.1926 design for Jaquard ireaTlng

II.

Drapery material, 1927.

Designed

for the

Dessau. Spun

(2X X

Theater Cafe Altes,

silk,

4i/< inches).

of Modern Art,

7

x

105.4

cm

The Museum

New York,

Gift of the designer 451.51.

18


12.

Tablecloth material, 1930.

Mercerized cotton, 59.3 x 72.4 (23

Xx

The Museum of Modern

New

cm

zS'A inches).

York, Purchase

Art,

Fund

561.53.

19


.

"

~T

fe^ \\it

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

wiri

TrinBML-

annelise albers 8. 25. gobelin V besitz nationfelmuseiiin miinchen '

iSiiiiitft'^iilf

"o'>i*(J''

I"

IV-

:

13.

Design

11

^

tor a wall hanging, 1925.

Gouache on paper, 31.7 X 19.2 cm (12X X 7%(, inches). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of the designer 395.51.

20


'-;

c Iters If Jute-teppich y..

>.nnÂťS-iÂŤ*t

2oo cm.

'^

a<

27.

131-,

c,-,

14.

Design for

^cv-

a jute rug, 1927.

Watercolor and india ink on paper,

cm (13 X 10 The Museum of Modern 34.6

X

26.3

/^

X<.

inches).

Art.

New

Gift of the designer 403.51.

21

York,


WVWVWVrt H iBV'^H'''Hi

H

Hi

Bl

H

~iH

Hi

B H H H Jl H I I

^'-^1

'~

-p,

i.

IB'.

;sr

w

^';.

.^

.,:'

1^

PjBm

»«

.iiifiiiiiii

nrie»±i&« 6,1136X3 2.

sweater teppich

28.

;

gvc-^-^-

,

'' <- -""^

15.

Design for

a rug for a child's

room, 1928. Gouache on paper,

X 10 34.1 X 26.5 cm (13 The Museum of Modern '/(,

New York, 405.51.

22

%. inches).

Art,

Gift of the designer


c?.

^.ft^M^^ÂŤJÂŤA a

!^H^aP^^^iW^ ^

^ ^Jg ^ ^"^

^^^^

9e.

g^

^ ^

arais

gg

ted iprcao!

annaiias albers

2. 28. entv.urf fur eine 'bettdeclce

^-'-

i6.

10

7h^ It^Y

Design

for a bedspread, 1928.

Watercolor and pencil on paper, 32.5 X 25.9 cm (12% X 10X6 inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New

York, Gift of the designer

406.51.

23


ste JeSlTer^orhknGc ftr'dc. oliappeseide loo

on;

th.ateroafe in desnau

.tr.

17.

Design

Designed

for drapery material, 1927.

for the

Theater Cafe Altes,

Dessau. Watercolor on paper, inches). cm (9 X Art, New York, Modern The Museum of

22.9

X

35.2

I

yi

Gift of the designer 404.51.

24


i8.

Design

1928.

tor a theater curtain,

Gouache on

paper,

cm (4X X i^'A inches). The Museum of Modern Art, II.

4X

35.2

New York,

Gift of the designer

407.51.

25


19-

Design for a tablecloth, 1930.

Watercolor and gouache

on square-ruled paper,

cm (10 X X 9/. inches). The Museum of Modern Art, 26 X 24.1

New

York, Gift of the designer

393-5I-

26


^f*^^

Mil

III

20.

Design for a tablecloth, 1930.

Gouache on paper, 30.2 X 23.8 cm (11 X X

9 X inches).

The Museum of Modern

New York,

Art,

Gift of the designer

408.51.

27


Thread

as Text:

The Woven Work of Anni

Virginia Gardner Troy

Albers

Anni Albers was acutely aware of the semantic function of thread and textiles in the context of art and design. Throughout her prolific and lengthy weaving career she explored the notion of thread degree that remains unsurpassed by any other textile

She achieved

"'

textiles

Andean

Albers advanced textile art,

by synthesizing what she had learned from two

this position

primary sources: Andean

as text to a

artist this century.

and the

art

and teaching of Paul

Klee.'

most outstanding examples of

textiles as "the

calling the weavers of ancient Peru her "great teachers"'

and

using their extraordinary textiles as her primary textbook in her quest to create art that could be "turn[ed] to again

possibly

last for

she stated, "I "his art

is

and that

lasting,

teachers, the artistic

Andean

is

to Klee as

what It is

my great

interests

that

might

Of Klee,

things have. "^

hero," because

me: the lasting things, and not

significant that Albers linked her great

weavers, to her hero, Klee, by

way of her concept

permanence.

Klee's art

mind by

and again and

some ancient Peruvian

come always back

quick passing things."'

[the]

of

centuries as

and Andean weavings were

her interest in

artistic

language.

also

connected

in Albers's

Through her continuous

investigation of thread as a carrier of meaning, not simply as a utilitarian

product, she was able to create art that functions as she believed her ancient

embedded her work with of the pictograph

ideograph

mark

mark

representation).

that refers to an external subject), the

first

and the

an idea, not necessarily through pictorial

These semantic and

Albers's

language,

that stands for a letter or word),

(a sign that indicates

visual signs that Klee

as a visual

predecessors had done." She also

poetic content by exploring in thread the notion or

(a sign

calligraph (a beautiful

Andean

had examined weavings to

artistic

elements were forms of

in his art.

result

from her

interest in visual sign

languages were her large, multi-weave wall hangings from the Dessau

Bauhaus period, such Black-White-Red this

as

an untitled hanging from 1926

{ic)x6, fig. 21),

and Black-White-Gray

time she had become an important force

weaving workshop toward

a systematic

(fig.

4), fig. 22)."

(i^iy,

in leading the

By

Bauhaus's

and orderly approach

to textile

design and production that emphasized the integral relationship between

construction and pattern. In this

and the substitution of one for another, could

of the production process." to decipher

textiles

could be produced in

it;

The

role of

series,

one weave construction

change the entire nature of the finished

same time Albers promoted the code

way

fiber for another, or

handweaving

as

textile.

one of the

At the first

steps

use of a system implies the availability of a

in Albers's case the textile itself served as the code, or

prototype, lor production. Fhe approach to textile design and production that she developed at the

28

Bauhaus was one

of Albers's great achievements.


21.

Black-White-Red, 1964

reconstruction of a 1926 original.

Cotton and (68

Xx

46

silk, 175

x

118

cm

X. inches).

Bauh.uis-ArLhi\', Berlin.

22.

Black-White-Gray, 1964

reconstruction of a 1927 original

Cotton and (57 'X X 46

"/(.

silk,

147

x

118

inches).

Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin.

.

11

M

"

rj JET! 29

cm


^

»J" Affuis-

for

it

provided an alternative to the narrative and figural European tapestry

tradition— in which

a textile

ftfi (fcf

J*^<*'^

and it allowed the modern weaver to compose on the loom.' Through her study of Andean textiles, Albers

often created by others i f/M.

flH.li

directly

was able

how

understand

to

the direct communication between use and and product, was accomplished in ancient

design, between process

^

t

was produced by weavers based on cartoons

hand looms by

times on simple

a sophisticated culture that did not use

conventional Western writing systems, but instead employed symbols to *>»

/fc;

J^a

(fa-

communicate

ideas.'"

In designing her wall hangings, Albers

neaCj

on

a language

division.

at the

"Padagogischen Nachlass,"

Kunstmuseum

These

The

which Klee taught

in his theoretical classes

year 1927 was an important one for Albers, because she

was among those

ca. 1923.

principles,

Bauhaus, had an integral relationship to the underlying structure

of weaving. Paul KJee, Page from the

23.

system based

a

of rotation, color swapping, repetition, multiplication,

to the principles

and

employed

of geometric, modular forms, which she arranged according

who

attended a course taught by Klee specifically for

weaving-workshop students." Certainly she had had access

to his

Bern, Paul Klee Stiftung.

work

before this time through his published pedagogical notebooks and exhibitions of his work." stated,"

and

"We

were so

full

of admiration for Klee," she once

"He was my god

added,

later

at the time."'^

What

she

primarily absorbed from Klee during his course were his lessons dealing

with structural composition, particularly in relation to the explained

it,

the grid

units as well as

is

a structure generated

grid.

As Klee

both by the repetition of

by the under- and overlapping of bands. Pages from

his

pedagogical notebooks show that weaving featured in his thoughts on the grid. Indeed, for a unit

on

structural composition he

warp and weft construction of weaving in order to

show

"I

diagrammed

weaving

as well as

the inherent checkerboard pattern of the

think

I

owe most of my

the

in cross section

medium

insight into problems of

form

(fig. 23).'*

to Klee,"

Albers later stated, pointing to Klee's importance as a source for her early investigations into the language of nonobjective

within the idiom of weaving."'

The geometric

form and

its

significance

patterns that she created

within a grid format are essentially self-referential in that they are inherent to the works' structure; at the

the idea of text.

The

same time they suggest both the image and

viewer scans the images for clues to a code, and by

doing so becomes engaged in a perceptual

activity

Albers's exploration of textiles as text

of sign modules was reinforced during

this

not unlike that of reading.

through the arrangement

period by the

Andean

textiles

she saw in various museums.'' She admired the dazzling and complex color

and shape patterning of

Inca, Wari,

and Tiawanaku

tunics,

which have

a

strong similarity to the type of patterning she was exploring at the Bauhaus.

She 24. in a

Tocapu tunic, Island of Titicaca, found stone chest near Moro-Kato. American

Museum

of Natural History,

New

F.

Bandelier in 1896 32601.

Andean open-weave and multi-weave

textiles.

Albers

structures in these textiles rather than to specific iconography, even

though

York,

Part of the Garces Collection, Purchased by

A.

also studied

responded primarily to the concept and use of ideographic signs and

she was aware that discrete information about the

embedded within

their

forms and structures. She was particularly interested

in the Inca tunics that incorporated a geometric as tocapu in the

Quechua

language. She

examples of such tunics in the

Museum

Vieux Perou

(1924)."'

fig.

24)

motif patterning known

would have seen outstanding fiir

Munich,'* as well as in two books: Walter des Alten Peru (1923,

Andean world was

Vdlkerkunde

Lehmanns

in Berlin

and

Kunstgeschichte

and Raoul d'Harcourt's Les

Tissus Indiens

These technically extraordinary, handmade

with their complex geometric and color arrangements, served formal and technical models for Albers's exploration of

du

textiles,

as ideal

textiles as art.

Albers immigrated to the United States with her husband, Josef,

30


in

19?^ From that year until 1949 she taught

Black Mountain College,

at

made the first of more From the start she including Andean textiles

near Asheville, North Carolina. In 1935 the couple

than fourteen trips to Mexico and South America.'"

combed

Mexico

the markets in

lor "old things,"

During these

for her personal textile collection.

substantial collection of

trips she also

assembled a

Black Mountain College, and acquired

textiles for

numerous items tor her and lose! s collection of Mesoamerican and Andean art, which eventually included more than one thousand ceramic, and

stone, jade,

textile pieces.'

mediately after her

first visit

of ancient American impact of Klee's

(both 1936,

She was

and

years

made

figs.

Mexico also

reflect

her deepening understanding

beginning to

understand the

fully

work and teaching now that she was able

upon her Bauhaus hangings she

art.

to

woven work im-

that occurred in Alberss

Fhe dramatic changes

in the

her memories of them.

filter

United

States,

element of Klee's

first

back

two wall

Ancient Writing and Monte Alban

companion

37 and 38), which are possibly

decisively different

to look

The

pieces,

were

from her Bauhaus work. Both pieces incorporate an

art that she assimilated in

own work

her

only after her

Bauhaus period: the exploration of the personal and associational aspects of subject matter, particularly in the context of semantics.

With Monte Alban Albers used

for the first time a technique

throughout her subsequent weaving

that she practiced

career: the supple-

mentary, or floating, weft, in which an extra weft thread "floated,"

is

above the woven surface. Albers would have seen

threaded, or this

common

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Andean technique which is still widely used in modern Latin America in Germany and in publications; indeed, she owned numerous examples of it.' In Mo>ite AlbcDi Albers used this technique to "draw" lines on the surface of the woven structure to refer to the ascending and descending and the underground chambers of the ancient

steps, the Bat plazas,

after

which the work

former

civilization

named. "We were aware

is

upon

of layer

under the ground," she wrote of her

The supplementary-weft technique

on the

to be vitally important, her focus

visit to

overall textile

inscription

was

new under-

standing of both Andean art and Klee's vision. She later said,

had

.

.

.

influence

on

my work

and

my

continued

a significant

departure from her Bauhaus work. This change reveals her

[Klee] probably

"I find that

thinking by just

looking at what he did with a line or a dot or a brush stroke, and a

way

to find

my way

in

my own

of

the site."

allowed her to devote attention to the

While the structure of the

surface of the weaving.

site

layer

my own

material and

In Ancient Writing s\\t similarly used a

title

tried in

I

craft discipline."'''

and abstract

visual

forms to imply content. She evoked the idea of visual language by grouping together differently textured and patterned squares like words or glyphs,

locking this "text" into an underlying grid.

margins, appears to Klee, Albers

jump forward

sometimes used pictographic,

signs simultaneously in her visual language

work

in

and mark-making,

The

to be "read

"

"text," like

which

words on

calligraphic,

is

set

within

a page."

Like

and ideographic

order to address concerns related to

a practice that

occupied Albers through-

out her career in the United States and that she continually framed within the context of to have

um

Andean

She was amazed that Andean culture seems

textiles.

had no written language, and she concluded that the

itself

"was their language

.

.

.

their

way of speaking about

textile

medi-

the world."''

Monte Alban and Ancioit U'';7//;/i^ signaled the beginning of Alberss long exploration of what she called her "pictorial weaving." his term is somewhat contradictory in that she never wove recognizable pictures 1

in the traditional

European manner; "abstract

pictorial

weaving"

(as


——

opposed

more accurate term. one method by which

would be

to "figurative pictorial weaving")

Albers thought of the floating-weft technique as

unique

to create a

direction of

art."'"

image

pictorial

the raison d'etre of

With

my

Quipu,

Inca,

from the

coastal valley

Natural History,

New York

Museum

threads

upon

which

unique objects of her weavings, Albers could

Black-White-Gold I

of

threads be articulate again," she wrote,

let

change her work Irom prototype 25-

"the

pictorial weavings.""**

the augmentation of the floating-weft thread,

essentially created

of Chancay, Peru. American

worked toward

She believed that the creation of art revolved around

the process of articulation: "To "is

in thread as she

a

42), she

{i<)')0, fig.

added

calligraphic floating-weft

woven

the central portion of the

effectively

weaving

to art. For her pictorial

field.

She

introduced

also

325190.

the supplementary knotted weft, a technique derived from a Peruvian source,

most

likely the elaborate

Andean recording

device called a

quipu, a knotted thread instrument that held codified data (see

fig. 25)."'

Discussing the Andeans' use of quipus, Albers stated,

[Andean weavers] developed a very

tricky mathematics.

.

instruments were, again, not written. They didn't have as I told you.

But what

did [have] was threads

they

quipus, this instrument.

And the

with different knots

Here was a

clear

how

to

and different do

The amount

and applied

and so

heights

called

had

to

ivas indicated

on. I

knew

once,

as text,

which Albers

own work.

to her

woven work of the

Albers's pictorial

dominated by her

ivriting, .

it.'"

example of thread functioning

innovatively translated

.

These

.

dijferent things that they

deliver were designated on each thread.

at one time,

.

.

1950s to the early 1960s was

and use of visual sign languages. She

interest in

believed that textiles, particularly

Andean

textiles,

served as "transmitters

of meaning." She wrote.

Along with cave paintings, threads were among the

earliest transmitters

of meaning, hi Peru, ivhere no written language in the generally

understood sense had developed even by the time of the conquest in the sixteenth century, this

but because of it

come

to

Albers

On

we find

—one of

to

my mind not

in spite

the highest textile cultures

of

we have

know."

wove Two

44) in 1952 with these thoughts in mind.

(fig.

top ol an underlying plain-weave checkerboard ground, Albers wove

heavy dark

fibers using a

supplementary technique. Thus the dark shapes

appear to overlap one another upon the ground, creating a dynamic and scriptlike figure-ground relationship. Tivo

was originally woven "sideways,"

with the short end in the vertical direction; afterwards Albers turned it

in

and signed

horizontally,

it

on the lower

one direction and then turning

it

right.

The

to another after

practice of

working

completion was

Andean weavers of the Middle Horizon

frequently employed by expert

(500-900 ad) and Late Horizon (1438-1534 AD)periods." Klee, too,

fre-

quently turned or inverted his work after completion."

Two

is

a particularly significant

De of De

clear indebtedness to

formal vocabulary

Stijl.

Stijl

—which

she

for over three decades,

viewing

it

American

parallels

between

their use

She saw

art.

De

Stijl

subject matter later

would

32

striking piece because of

its

in light

first

learned at the Bauhaus

of her contact with ancient

De

Stijl

and Andean

textiles in

of universal abstract languages and patterns.'^ Albers was aware

that early

while

and

Albers maintained her involvement with the

images were essentially distillations of recognizable

abstractions that resulted in pictographic representations

images moved toward the ideographic and the nonobjective. She

also have noticed that Pict

Mondrian's and Theo van Doesburgs


linear block

compositions echo the inherent construction of weaving and

create figure-ground relationships like that of text

The

between the principles of

parallels

apparent in works

textiles are particularly

ambiguous and

ships are

De

a page.'

and Andean

Stijl

which figure-ground

in

abstract pictorial signs

owned numerous Andean

ones.'" Albers

on

relation-

merge with ideographic

textiles that

contain this visual

ambiguity, such as a C]hancay fragment constructed with two different techniques: the top portion

portion

is

interlocked tapestry

and value patterning,

color

supplementar\-weft brocade, while the lower

is

are established

bold figure-ground relationships that

as well as

lower portion

reversals, the

for Two, while the

upper portion served

manv of these burlap

late is

of

stepped lines

its

clearly a formal source

as a technical source.

Modern

works on burlap,

at the

1949 KJee Klee painted

Art.'" Interestingly,

a loosely

woven, natural-fiber

cloth.

painted, the warp-and-weft structure and texture of the

emphasized,

is

In

which Albers would have seen

Museum

retrospective at the

cloth

is

also reveals an indebtedness to Klee's late script pictures with

their grafifitilike signs,

When

dynamic

parts involve

through contrast and repetition.

and figure-ground

Two

Roth

26).

(fig.

on the Rocks [Flora

as in KJee's Tlora

am

FeLeru 1940, 26. I'rc-C'olumhi.m textile Ir.igiiK-iu,

fig.

work

27), resulting in a

that appears to be both painting

Klee frequently explored the merging of

artistic

and

textile.

Chancay. 1100-1400 AU. Cotton,

techniques along with the

merging of signs, and Albers clearly emulated this fluid approach.

Soon

companion

after Albers

made Two

piece, Pictographic (1953,

sideways." Blocks of color arranged

on

she fig.

a checkerboard

ground

to refer to the is

not

as

image of a

pronounced

of value and

While the

in Pictographic as

contrast between light

it is

in

cm

(6

y*

X

5

inches),

I're-("olumbian Textiles ot the Joset and .•\nni

Albers Foundation, Bethany.

are "inscribed"

this

work and dark

Two, the varying degrees

between the blocks and the Xs produce subtle

intensit)'

figure-

that evoke a passage of text or layers of text.

ground relationships

The most

text.

12.7

rhe Anni Albers Collection ot

wove what may have been a 28), also a long rectangle woven

with forty-one Xs. As in Two, Albers used line and shape in

X

16.5

striking examples of Albers's pictorial weavings

from

main thematic groups:

the 1950s and 1960s can be divided into two

those using imagery derived from ancient American motifs or landscapes,

South of the Border (1958) and Tikal (1958); and those evoking linguistic characters and systems through the rectilinear arrangement of

such

as

ideographic signs.

Many

textual references, as in

of the

Memo

titles

(1958),

of these

Open

latter

works have ,

Haikti (1961), and Code (1962). In light of Albers's focus

and

signs

it is

American

interesting to note that .some of the

art that

stamps used

direct

Letter {i%%) Jotting (1959),

first

on

inscriptions

pieces of ancient

Albers purchased in Mexico were ceramic and stone

to print

and block designs

are similar to the type

29-32)."'

(figs.

once used to compose

These stamps

text in printing in that

both

require the creation of a figure-ground relationship in order for the

image or

text to

1^

be seen and therefore read.

The relationship of image/text to ground was one that Albers delighted in and explored with increasing intensity during the 1950s. pictorial

weavings of

this

rectilinearit)'

within patterns and

in pattern

is

90.7

sequences. In

Memo,

to read this

"memo"

bars.

strict

for

Although one's

for information, Albers's

intention was not simply to simulate a page of text; rather, she sought to investigate the nature of ideographic signs visual information

Klee, /•/on;

am

(»i

inc kocKi

FeLen), 1940.

X

70.5

cm

(35 'kfiX

Kunstmuseum Bern

a repertoire of sign characters that are similar to

an alphabet, and these are arranged along horizontal automatic respon.se

I'aiil

Oil and tempera on burlap,

Her

period reveal a deliberate effort to create a high

degree of contrast between figure and ground, and to maintain a

example, she employed

.

(Flora

and the expression of codified

through thread.

33

G

27

X

1622.

inches)


Cotton,

28. Pictographic, 1953.

45.7

X

101.6

cm

(18

X 40

inches).

The

Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society purchase, Stanley and

Madalyn Rosen

Fund, Dr. and Mrs. George Kamperman Fund, Octavia W. Bates Fund,

Emma S.

Fechimer and William C. Yawkev Fund.

29.

Pre-Columbian stamp, Guerrero,

1250-1521 AD. Ceramic, 7

wide. Peabody History,

New

Museum

^a>.

251685.

Peabody

inches) wide.

History,

New

Museum

8

cm

(3 VÂŤ

of Natural

^iuÂť

Haven, Connecticut, Gift of

^MiMiilMi

Anni Albers 257022.

Josef and

Pre-Columbian

roller

stamp, possibly

Valley of Mexico, 1200-100 BC. Perforated

sandstone, 8

Museum

New

cm

(3 /s

inches) long.

Peabody

of Natural History,

Haven, Connecticut, Gift of Josef

and Anni Albers 257679.

32.

Pre-Columbian

Valley of Mexico, 9

cm

(3 Vi

roller

stamp, Tlatilco,

1200-900

inches) long.

of Natural History,

BC. Ceramic,

Peabody

New

^K

^^

Pre-Columbian stamp, Highland

Mexico, 1250-1521 AD. Ceramic,

31.

m m^h^^^yi. ^m ^ ^^^P^5 s^^^^^3^1 ^3m M9 ^ ^^ Jt^'m^^^

(^V, inches)

Haven, Connecticut, Gift of

Josef and Anni Albers

30.

cm

of Natural

Museum

Haven,

Connecticut, Gift of Josef and Anni Albers 257542.

34

m

'^9

M JaMM QSS


tics, in

work:

a

(1955, fig- 4~) also relates signihcantl)- to

IHtiy

of Squares

way

that has generally

element of

its

been overlooked

white squares and

play. Thirry-six

brown squares appear

in

horizontal bands. As the viewer scans for a code, one system

on

medium brown band

a

formula does not emerge. In

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but an

than the earlier work, and

its title

is

revealed

is

brown band

or three

overall, sequential

way, PLiy oj Squares

this

Black-White-Gray (1927), but Play of Squares in texture

dark

thirr)'-rhree

apparcntk random order along rwenty-three

every row has either three dark squares on a light light .squares

seman-

of Albers's

in discussions

similar to Alber.s's

is

smaller and nubbier

suggests that

is

it

more

poetic

and improvisational. Ibis nonsensical and apparentl\- random arrange-

ment of squares within of words and

Here

.sounds).

format evokes an ambiguous arrangement

a linear

letters (a play

of words) or of musical notes

connection ro Klee

Albers's

is

(a

play of

again apparent: Klee, a

master of word play, shifting signs, and improvisation, perfected the art of visual

pimning by

skillfully creating figures, shapes,

metamorphose from one thing

to

and

texts that

could

another depending on the viewers

reading of them. Albers was clearly aware that the process could easily overwhelm

strict

creativity, so

limitations of the weaving

she continually advanced

the role of improvisation anti frequentl}' brought up the subject of play

when

discussing the creative process. In her 1941 article

Today," for example, she suggested that designing

"Handweaving loom should

at the

first

involve play:

An to

elementary approach will be a playfiil beginning, unresponsive

any demand of usefdness, an enjoyment of colors, forms, surface

contrasts

and

harmonies, a tactile sensuousness. This

first

and

always most important pleasure in the physical qualities of materials needs but the simplest techjiique

and must

be sustai)U'd tluvugh

the most complicated one. For just this satisfaction

material qualities

Through artist

is

working with

this playful

coming f'om

part of the satisfaction we get from art/" materials, Albers believed that the

could begin to create meaningful form.

Two main efforts dominated Albers's work of the 1960s: large woven murals for public spaces primarily ark curtains for synagogues and her book On Weaving, which is still a standard text in weaving courses

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

today.

The

.synagogue commissions required Albers to approach text-

another way, and

related issues in yet

this resulted in

powerful ark curtains

and celebrate the Hebrew Scriptures.

that both protect

Albers achieved the union of art and utility that

is

evident in

these curtains through her admiration and imderstandin" of the Klee,

who

.sought to interpret the physical

in codified yet playful

study of Andean

work of

and metaphysical worlds

ways. Ihis union can equally be attributed to her

textiles. In

On Weaving s\\e

described the

work

of the

Andean weavers with admiration:

Of infinite phantasy

withi)i the

world of threads, conveying strength

or playfidness, mystery or the reality of their surroundings, endlessly

varied in presentation

and construction,

a code of basic concepts, these that

is

From

textiles set

even though

bound to

a standard ofachievement

unsurpassed." these

two sources, Albers deri\ed the inspiration

for her

exploration of semantics within the field of weaving. As a teacher, collector, student,

of artists

and

artist,

and designers

and Albers

herself,

an

Albers has inspired subsequent generations

to strive to create, like Klee, the

art that

is

lastint:

Andean weavers,

and meaniniiful.

35


Pre-Columbian

textile

fragments from Anni Albers's personal collection

33.

Late Intermediate period

(1100-1400 ad). Cotton and wool, 36.2

X

The

18. 1

cm

(14X X 7/s inches).

Josef and Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany PC018.

34.

Nasca period (100 BC-700 AD).

Wool, 36.2 X 7.9 (14

X

)<

The

cm

3/8 inches).

Josef and

Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany PC032.

i.'A

35.

Middle Horizon period

(500-900 ad). Cotton and wool, 27.6 X 30.2 (10 Ts

The

X

II 7s

cm

inches).

Josef and

Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany PC020.

36

*"^

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

rlfliTnTtifi

I

I


Notes

1.

Mary

Jane Jacob, in tur

A Modern Weaver

Albcrs:

language, no graph paper, and no peniiK

"Anni

(.ssay

could manage such inventions, wc should

as Artist," in

hope

The Woven and (iraphic Art of Anni Albers

be able

(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian

these structures."

1985),

was the

first

Press,

to discuss the textual

also briefly

between

mentioned

connection

a

contact with Peruvian weaving

For

(p. 72).

Droste, Giinia

am

Significance of

Woven and Work," Ph.D. diss., Emory

Pedagogical

Frankfurt

Albers

UMI und

Anden,

Amerika. Kiinstlerpaare

in

'

Europa und

Main, 1986; Ingrid Radewaldt,

Hamburg,

1986;

and

In her 1924 article "Bauhauswebcrei,"

Albers (who was then

known

as

weavers could learn from ancient weavers,

who wove

Awareness and

"according to the inherent prop-

of handicraft and material" rather

Application," Surface Design Journal lo,

erties

no. 2 (winter 1996), pp. lO-ii, 35-37.

than following prepared plans.

Anni

On

Albers,

Weaving (M\A<i\cuwjn.

Conn.: Wesleyan University

4.

Sevim

reprinted in Bauhaus

with Anni

Fesci, interview

New

transcript in

Zeitschrift "Junge

Menschen" (Munich: Kraus Reprint, 1980).

Haven, Conn., July

Archives of American Art,

New

5,

p.

This was discussed in two important

ID.

1968,

pre- World

W.

York;

War

and A.

Rciss

Ancon

The Josef and Anni Albers

Foundation archives, 5.

p. 188;

Weimar: Sonderheft der

Ibid., p. 6.

AJbers,

"Bauhauswebcrei," Junge Menschen 8 (Nov. 1924),

Press, 1965),

pp. 69-70. 3.

I

German

(Berlin, 1880-87), translated into

(London and

Richard Polsky, interview with Anni

Max

and

1985,

11,

Berlin:

Gewcbe mit Szenenhaften

Resesarch Office, Columbia Universit)-,

in

The

Josef and Anni

6.

Recent

of thread

document

in

terms of

ancient American textiles include Jane

"The Anthropolog)' of Cloth,

Schneider,

Annual Review of Anthropology

16 (1987),

Weave for the Sun: Andean

Textiles in the

(Boston:

Museum

and Walter Mignolo,

of

Boone

Fine Arts, 1992); Elizabeth Hill

eds.. Writing

Press, 1994);

Without

University

in

On

Weaving

fabrics that

(p. 50):

Andean

textiles

"Double weaves

are

have two separate layers which

can be locked

at

both

within the fabric,

at

sides, at

one

side, or,

any number of places

where the design asks

for

an exchange of

top and bottom layers, usually of difVerent colors.

There are

also triple

period, these factors

were discussed

Ernest

in

Fuhrmann, Reich

der Inka (Hagcn and Darmstadt: Folkwang

Museum,

1922); ^'ilhelm Hausenstein,

BiUnerei exotischer Volker (Munich: Piper Verlag, 1922); Herbert Kiihn,

Die Kunst

1923);

and Eckart von Sydow, Die Kunst der

Naturvolker t4nd der Vorzeit (Berlin: Propylaen-Kunstgeschichte, 1923). Albers

likely familiar

with

See Troy, "Anni Albers:

all

of these books.

The

Significance of

Ancient American Art for Her

Albers described multiweave construc-

tions within the context of

New

During the

Weimar Bauhaus

most

Art, trans. Esther Allen (Austin:

University of Texas Press, 1996). 7.

(Leipzig

and other members of the Bauhaus were

and Cesar Paternosto,

The Stone and the Thread: Andean Roots

ofAbstract

i

Berlin: leubner Verlag, 1911;

der Primitiven (Munich: Delphin-Verlag,

Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica

and the Andes (Durham: Duke

Beitnige zur Viilkerkunde, vol.

Barbaren und Klassiker: ein Buch von der

pp. 409-48; Rebecca Stone-Miller, To

Museum of Fine Arts

Darstellungen,"

York: Johnson Reprint, 1968).

texts that discuss the subject

as a social

Co., 1906);

Ehrenreich, ed., Baessler-Archiv:

P.

and

Albers Foundation archives, pp. 49-51.

&

Asher

Schmidt, "Uber Altperuanischc

"American Craftspeople Project," Oral

York; transcript in

publications:

Das Totenfeld von

Stiibel,

English as The Necropolis at Ancon in Peru

5.

Albers, Orange, Conn., Jan.

New

Annelise

Fleischmann) suggested that modern

Kunstmuseum Bern; Cologne: Dumont, 1998); and "Andean

2.

diss..

Sigrid

Wortmann Weltge, Bauhaus Textiles (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993). 9.

Kiinsllerfreunde

(exh. cat.; Bern:

Textiles at the Bauhaus:

Master's thesis, University of

am

University of

Josef Helfenstein and Henriette Mentha, eds., Josef und Anni Albers,

Bauhaus-Archiv,

"Bauhaustextilien 1919-1933," Ph.D.

Publications, 1997); "Anni

die Icxtilkunst der

.SVoZz/ (Berlin:

Bauhaus, Anni Albers, Zwischen Kunst

und Leben,"

(Ann Arbor,

at

Hopkins

Maria Jocks, "Eine Weberin

Ancient American Art for Her

Mich.:

weaving

Bauhaus include Anja

University, Baltimore, 1994; M.igdalena

1987); Petra

University, Atlanta, 1997

to repeat at lease

Baumhoff, "Gender Art and Handicraft

following essays by Virginia Gardner

The

texts that discuss the at the

further discussion of these topics, see the

Troy: "Anni Albers:

I

the Bauhaus," Ph.D. diss., Johns

open weaves and her

Albers's

Recent

8.

workshop

references in Albers's pictorial weavings,

and she

easily

weaves and

Woven and

Pedagogical Work," pp. 37-44 and 65-74. II.

Albers joined the Bauhaus in 1922,

taking the preliminary course with

Muche Itten's

at that

Georg

time and then Johannes

course in 1922-23. In 1923, her third

semester, she joined the weaving workshop.

During her fourth semester,

in

1923-24,

she assisted in the dye laboratory, and in her

fifth

semester, in 1924, she most likely

quadruple weaves. ... In ancient Peru,

completed her

double weaves

complicated designs were

took Vasily Kandinsky's "thcor\' of form"

weaves have been found,

course during the 1925-26 semester.

made, and .IS

in

triple

well as a small quadruple piece. If a

highly intelligent people with no written

September

to

first

wall hanging. She

December

1929, she

From

was

act-

ing director of the weaving workshop. After

37


graduating

1930 Albers worked indepen-

in

dently and again served briefly (during the

of 1931)

fall

as director

of the weaving

Albers had purchased Klee's Two Forces

{Zwei Kraft, 1922)

The

in 1924.

Josef and

Anni Albers Foundation generously provid-

me

ed

with

information.

this

Neil Welliver, "A Conversation with

13.

Anni

Albers,

1967, p.

"

and Graphic Art of

it

in Klee, Notebooks,

The

p. 241.

November

lesson

1923,

Composition" was included

is

not

and

it

in the

same

(The dates of lessons are not always

clear in the

two published volumes of

1925),

Albers

held

at

was

Toni Ullstein Fleischmann,

member of this prominent

a

handbook,

a

copy of

which included

20.

A summary

of the Alberses'

travels fol-

Havana;

Mexico;

lows: 1934, Florida, 1936,

Mexico; 1937, Mexico; 1938, Florida;

1939,

Mexico; 1940, Mexico;

New

his earlier

in

classroom

published

Mexico; 1967, Mexico. This

from documents held

piled

Mountain College

Papers,

Anni Albers Foundation 21.

York:

in

Anni

Pre-Columbian

and

art

began

Germany,

in

museums

there. Nicholas

The

Josef

Fox Weber,

The

Albers Foundation

in Berlin already

Museum

the largest col-

it

Art,

American

which

Museum,

Major donations of Andean

art to

(see Karl

in

1899 and the Reiss and

is

acquired 2,400 items in 1882

Hudson

from Cuzco

in 1888

ancient American pieces to the 1907.

collec-

and the Bolivar

Wilhelm Grctzer

col-

sold 27,254

museum

in

Immina von Schuler-Schomig, "The Andean Collections at the Museum

Central fiir

Volkerkunde, Berlin, Their Origin

and Present C^rganization,"

Hocquenghcm, Collections in

ed.,

Anne-Marie

Pre-Columbian

1987), pp. 163-65. See

Corinna Raddatz, "Christian Thcodor

Wilhelm Gretzer and

his

Pre-(^olumbian

Collection in the Niedersiichsisches

Landesmuseum of Hannover,"

38

in the

and Anni

Mexican Miniatures: The Josef and Anni

The Anni

Pre-Columbian

Andean

York: Praeger, 1970],

Textiles (comprised of 113

textiles),

which

is

now

the Josef

at

Harriett Englehardt

Memorial Collection

of Textiles (comprised of ninety-two textiles

purchased by Anni Albers for Black

Mountain

College),

which

is

now housed

University Art Gallery. Bl.ick

Mountain College

Papers, vol.

2,

box

8;

and Troy, "Anni Albers: The Significance of Ancient American Art for Her

Woven

and Pedagogical Work," pp. 163-69. 22.

same

[New

Albers Collection of

and Anni Albers Foundation; and The

at Yale

European Museums (Budapest:

Akademiai Kiado, also

in

and

Anni Albers Foundation

of Pre-Columbian Art [New York:

p. 4);

lection in 1904.

Peabody

at the

Hills Press, 1988], p. 9,

and subsequently the tion

Josef and

Taube, The Josef and Anni Albers

Collection

Albers Collection

Centeno

collections

The

now housed

from Dr. Jose Mariano Macedo of Lima, large

main

art:

Albers and Michael Coe, Pre-Columbian

Stubel donation of 2,000 items in 1879.

The museum

in 1939 after

Yale University Art Gallery,

Josef and

at the

of 11,690 items

Toni and

Anni Albers Collection of Pre-Columbian

at the

included the Baessler donation

father,

met Josef and Anni

Alberses had three

Europe

museum

the

Volkerkunde

fur

owned more than 7,500 making

textiles,

lection of these textiles in

time.

Toni

Nazi Germany.

of ancient

archives.

1907, the

mother and

Veracruz in 1937 and again

in

The Josef and Anni

Andean

1939, see

and Anni Albers Foundation

Siegfried Fleischmann,

fleeing

By

and

in 1937

English transcript, translated by

video interview with Anni Albers, 1984,

18.

Mexico

archives. Anni's

that she frequently visited the ethno-

graphic

archives.

Fleischmann's grandson Theodore Benfey, in

21.

Albers remarked in 1984 that her interest

17.

North Carolina

Ullstein Fleischmann's 1937-39 travel diaries;

Welliver, "A Conversation with

16.

was com-

list

in the Black

For information regarding the Alberses'

trips to

Praeger, 1953).

Albers," p.

1953, Chile,

and The Josef and

State Archives, Raleigh,

in English as Pedagogical Sketchbook, ed.

Moholy-Nagy (New

Mexico;

1941,

Mexico; 1949,

Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, trans. Sibyl

1935,

Peru; 1956, Mexico, Peru, Chile; 1962,

Piidagogisches

The handbook was

publishing

family.

Mexico; 1952, Mexico, Havana;

Anni Albers owned

Skizzenbuch (published by the Bauhaus

exercises.

(Much of Albers's The Josef and Anni Foundation.) Schmidt's Kunst und

now

is

1946-47, Mexico,

Klee's notebooks.)

Klee's classroom

and she owned the 1934 French

Kultur von Peru was published by Ullstein;

assumed that "Constructive Approaches

Josef and

25,

images of other Andean

as well as

Albers's mother,

on structure

follows his lessons

dated Saturday, 10

series.

Lindenfeld,

4, 1996;

included numerous images from Lehmann's

library

Heinz Norden (New York:

Wittenborn, 1973),

to

Page and Lore

Kadden Lindenfeld and former colleague Tony Landreau. (Letters to the author

edition of d'Harcourt.

Two: The Nature of Nature, ed. Jiirg

SpiUer, trans.

is

which he

"Constructive Approaches to

dated, but

Don

former students

textiles,

Composition," appear Vol.

she taught

Black Mountain College, according to

at

book,

Albers, p. 19.

titled

when

1996.) Albers's personal slide collection

Klee's notes for this lesson,

15.

und

Schmidt's extensive Kunst

Kultur von Peru (1929),

Nov. 20, 1996; and Landreau, Sept.

15.

Date," in The Woven

Anni

Max

from Page, Sept.

Craft Horizons, July-Aug.

Nicholas Fox Weber, "Anni Albers to

14.

Albers used Lehmann's book, as well

19.

as

workshop. Droste, Guiita StolzL pp. 143-55. 12.

publication (pp. 169â&#x20AC;&#x201D;75).

is

A

cotton Chancay in Albers's collection

particularly striking because

it

is

one of


the few fully finished pieces that she owned. It

has four finished edges, or selvages, and

although

due

become somewhat

h,is

it

to wear,

approximately the

is

distorted

size of a

standard sheet of paper (seven by eleven

On

inches).

would have appreciaicd work and

the completeness ol this

the repetition ot the

Albers and Coe, Pre-Columbian

23.

Designing. In

how Andean

the

"Artist

with Albers, juiv

like borders." Jacob,

Weaver

per

as Artist," p. 93. 11,

Welliver, "A Conversation with .â&#x20AC;˘Xnni

Albers," p. 22. Albers frequently referred to

work

as a

way

as a

method ol working,

approach

for her to

possibly

the level of

rise to

art

"\Xbrk with Materials" (1937),

and

to

Weave for

proposed that the weavers

in Albers,

On

.1

tcxiile scholar

her solution to this problem was

se,

advanced It is

for the time.

likely that Albers

De

the journal

was familiar with

trom her Bauhaus

StiJl

and

years. In addition, she

owned

Josef

of Neo- Plastic Art, edited by Theo van Doesburg and published by the Principles

Bauhaus

Albers,

art.

her article

have produced a large web. C'onsidering

35.

her pictorial

in

Colonial

in Inca

that Albers was not

"Anni Albers:

1985, p. 43. 27.

Susan Niles.

itself.

and Empire

used a hinged loom, which would also

described the side

Polsky, interview with Albers, Jan.

26.

loom

yielded

it

ot greater dimensions than

the Sun, p. 56,

portions ot these two weavings as "margin-

A Modern

when unfolded,

web

Textiles," in Stone-Miller, To

5,

3.

Mary Jane Jacob

25.

must have been woven .iccordion-

style so that,

a single

2.

Fesci, interview

weavers were able to weave

technique on frame looms; each plane

Mexican Miniatures: The Josef and Anni

1968, p.

in

Albers investigated

concluding that the weavers must have

Albers Collection, p. 24.

it,

widths ot cloth on hand looms,

ot warps

grid formation.

fish in

On

was subsequently published

it

utilized a triple- or quadruple-layer

the supplementar)'-weft

technique. Albers

and

large

rwcnty-five cuttlefish were

it,

woven using

correspondence with Bird,

after a lengthy

Albers

in 1925.

is

said to have liked

van Doesburg's work, and ma)' have met

DÂŤ;^;///f (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan

him

Universit)' Press, 1971, 1987), p. 52.

Conversation with Nicholas Fox Weber,

Anni

Albers, introduction, in

28.

Pictorial Weavings (exh. cat.;

MIT

Mass.:

Press, 1959), p.

from Chai'in

Hudson,

Thames and

Inca (London:

to

11,

On

Albers,

Weaving,

p. 68.

For this technique, the cloth was

32.

woven with

a short vertical

warp and long,

pattern-carrying weft threads in the hori-

Thus

zontal direction.

Andean weaver

the

was oriented "sideways"

to the final design,

a feat that required great mental dexterity. See Stone-Miller, To

and

visual

Weave for

Klee's Carpet

of Memory

(

1966.

See Rebecca Stone-Miller, "Camclids

Huari and Tiwanaku

in

Textiles," in

Richard Townscnd,

Ancient Americas (exh.

of Chicago, 1992),

(Cambridge, Mass.: Ml'F 37.

A

Teppich der

Klee, edited

by Margaret

and expanded access to

in 1945.

Susanna Partsch, Paul Klee

(Cologne: Benedikt Ttschen, 1993), In the

the

same year

major

first

that Albers

p. 28.

wove Two

De StijI exhibition was Museum of Modern Art

presented at the in

New York.

It

is

likely that Albers

the exhibition, becau.se

was

New

at

saw

the time she

was revised

Miller,

Albers had easy

numerous exhibitions

of Klee's

and museums

in galleries

in

New

York. For example, sixty works by Klee

from January

and then turned

Press, 1990).

Museum of Modern Art in The accompanying catalogue, Paul

1941.

were exhibited

34.

p. 336, for

held at the

Erinnerung, 1914), for example, was originally

horizontally.

The

memorial exhibition was

large Klee

made

in a vertical direction

ed..

Chicago: Art

cat.;

a discussion of Andean abstraction. For a

work

the Sun, p. 38. 33.

18,

death in 1932.

his

summary of De Stijl, see Yve-Alain Bois, "The De Stijl Idea," in Painting iis Model

1985, pp. 45-46. 31.

36.

Institute

1995), p. 212.

Polsky, interview with Albers, Jan.

30.

Nov.

and Chaos

3.

An of the Andes

Rebecca Stone-Miller,

29.

Albers:

Cambridge,

Ciermany before

in

at the

to

Buchholz Gallery

February

one works were exhibited Art Circle trom April to 38.

A

pictograph

is

1951, at

May

a sign

and

the

thirt)'-

New

1952.

with figurative

references, as Albers used in

Monte Alban.

In titling Pictographic, however, she

used the term the

more

in a

work does not

general way, as

refer to

an external

York regularly to conduct

figurative subject but rather to the notion

research with the

Andean

and the image ot mark-making.

Junius B. Bird

the

visiting

at

textile scholar

American

Museum

of Natural History. Correspondence

39.

Flcischmann describes

between Junius B. Bird and Anni Albers,

40.

February and March 1952, Junius B. Bird

Textile

Papers,

American

Histor)-,

New

Albers wrote

on the

Museum

of Natural

York. at least

Albers,

purchase

"Handweaving Today

Work

The Weaver 41.

one scholarly

this

in her travel diaries, p. 24.

Albers,

at

Black Mountain College,"

G, no.

On

i

(Jan. -Feb. 1941), p.

Weaving,

p.

3.

69.

article

subject of Andean weaving tech-

niques, "A Structural Process in Weaving,"

written in 1952 for a course she attended at Yale Universir)-, which was taught by

George Kubler. Albers

revi.sed

the essay

39


llUilil!|||UiirfiiÂŤKBraWB|a illlil

llllllifllllillfl

36. UntitUcL 1934.

Rayon, linen, cotton, wool, and 53.3

X

116.8

cm

(21

X 46

inches).

Collection of Mrs. John Wilkie,

New York

jute,


37-

Ancient Writing, 1936.

Rayon, 149.8

X

linen, cotton,

and

jute,

cm (59 X 43 % inches). Museum of American Art,

III

National

Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D.C., Gift of John

Young

1984.150.

41


Monte Alban, 19^6. Silk, linen, and wool, 146 X 112 cm (57 X X 44 inches). The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, 38.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard G. Leahy

BR

42

81.5.


39- L'^

I^'iiz /,

1947.

Cotton, hemp, and metallic gimp,

47 X

82.5

cm

(18

X X 32X

The Josef and Anni

inches).

Aibers Foundation,

Bethany.

43


" "" „„__ iiaxjxtaitirtttixiittm «

'

timmtaixuitxi^avm

)

•'txtxttTxS.ixtatafzi',

„ -__

»"HISISt;rtr7iTVTTiiijjTtiriuUHtioM«MlMlli:XMTira:i[UiW<«IMM»(lui»iTr»iwi(rtiti^^

uxit tijiitrttt I ^ ^

Ww .:;tv i;iM-J

..r;i;t

40. Untitled, 1948. Linen

and cotton,

cm (16 Xx 19 X inches). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Edgar Kautmann, Jr. Fund 41.9

X

49.5

200.50.

44


^mii,t:

amauisi'aviitaamr,ยงt KiBatiBtiian t^^nyii JKi'-na* it i li'ii i i if

-<< โ€ขjaa;

41. Cityscape, 1949. Bast

44.5

X

67.3

cm

{ij'A

and cotton,

X 26X

inches).

Collection of Ruth Agoos Villalovos.

45


i|iiiiumiMati»»»HHinn;jmiK"«"»""<»B'"*fl"'l*"""^'^'"'-?"'^'»»™«<!<f6; liiiMihtiiwnltlllHHHliilniiiinmaHiMiiiiittttlllinHinnmittiiirininiKi^fcr.

KimuiimtiiiiiitiriMintMiaTTm rtS^SiiB .ir.^T imr[( n tflgaKHmunHH^Kimirrnir TrtTiiimtrir ^'yrr

T«ft

!

rn

^'.^

1

1

r

1 1

r^

PWCf svii«H*^»>.*.«i.>>»?5r?!^3ni!::«

!n'Bg^irnmiwiffTjmtniiiiiiffimiitiiiiwniinf)iipTn^ .

^

htitJiiteaMymfltimHm^HMU^^

.

:,„^u^.,,^

T'

i!tiiwi( )Ui iUi iBiia«>^w^ii(ilitii)W'feu^3iff)(taHtt« ----^fa*r'^tur»iit>Wi|fotttljitllMl»tiiilnmiTitT M»| li l »|BkutlUUttm^^ i

-tg<^"g^Hntminni.<Bg t«ttmiT ft |

i

JT^^g'-

.

..

'niiiniTiniijiitifriiiiiiiiiinrTi

Mimmimmxtuiumunw

lUmmtluniTJ?

,

g

affirmnitiiHMiii,

.^

„,

i^S-SfSKJTtn^lWtfti'.

'S

'

;«Mtln)r

iiiii.iimdi'

!i;iiH»niiJM|MMrt!||(ajj|«||i|nii»MiiimMjt i

~

'mumminiinumavaiciitif

illllllllV-'u

jIimtltlltntlHXlTUlTOlKKKi iuiiiiiiJui.ixiiini«i"nmtTOnuiijmii<(i,

-ii.i.iii.v

iim i mswiiwftwtii

,

'

lifitTTTrinri-iTmninnitTm [iimiTjjiir

.ttttpiiitiiUiUiuaaixl&iMuiUfiiwU^^

ijMIH

H.li.'iimMjJnnHiiBDDniii '""•"--"'[

^"'^'";;''rTltllflTrnTiTinit»llllirnrinnli

' , i

iritrMlttn<h1ilMli|(igi"iiirf^

ininriiminff^!itWniuiHmttftiryR)tHin>iHi!!!;rTnirn:

iiiiitni-

-^.^

tn.niiTffTrnOTPinnfflTOiHiiHiiifimnfjHiwM'MiiitTirnmiiw

iiotaiatoi

fniimniHiiiiiii .iinmin»iiiTiiMimiij5iri)iilll5nt«KH331i;

i.W1iy[MiKa«ri]|iWwyn[iihii. *MTHiijiniiHJiiKHij

'

'mnmninimimi WSSWWMTtttftf tttliB!

miirirattil iiiiUJCEffli:

mttj^iHifrtmnniainramrrninrriT zf([U]niTnnin«Htnmiiiiir!H{i iHHill

mwmnrmwf XJttyrtfc

ata-fiin

IflttimfflijIUmw 1 J JB7ini:W»»WMMSm( rill ITOJUliTpiJiTntl 1

^

-^«j„.^«,,.,...

,.,.,p..^

tqik

reiriKJIJOrBB;!; .„».....™..,„

,.-..JiwiDaJ,TOMfiiHniminTO^w«iiH«iiTinn»^i'3iSxmmin\a

^

42. Black-White-Gold

Cotton, 63.5

X

jute,

48.3

L 1950. and metallic ribbon,

cm

(25

X

The Josef and Anni Bethany.

46

19 inches).

Albers Foundation,

,,,^


Vl

ini

;t' '•'1

»t

r.T

li

nV '

,

It

!

"

ll> »»'

'

'^i

91

i

'^V'

^

f?

« jp

i^i I rt>

;

-

•« •!>*

Vi

^

5

=

rr

f^

'J^f

^^^nm'! ^3

{V*

I"

'^

HI'

f'vT

^r'.;^V

^'

I

c

JKIt

;;,iS.

— IT

;^!'jr??3l-ir':/l-

1*.

hlh H,'..K.)I"4.

:v\^3;

43.

Development in Rose

I,

1952.

Cotton and hemp, 57

X

The

43.8

cm

X(. X 17X inches). Anni Albers Foundation,

(22

Josef and

Bethany.

47


â&#x20AC;˘Ul!!!; wi

44. Tivo, 1952. Linen, cotton,

46.4 X 104

cm

(18

K X 41

and rayon,

inches).

Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, Gift of John Norton and Lucia N. Woodruff

The

48

Josef and


45. Untitle/^, 1950.

Cotton and

bast,

X 38.1 cm (25/^ X 15 inches). Cunningham Dance Foundation, 64.8

New

York.

49


Red Meander, 1954. Linen and X 50 cm (25 % X 19 % inches). Collection of Ruth Agoos Villalovos.

46.

cotton, 65

50


47- Pi^y

of Squares,

1955.

Wool and linen, 87.6 X 62.2 cm (34X X 24X inches). The Currier Galler)' of Art, Manchester,

New

Hampshire,

Currier Funds 1956.3.

SI


WiiT" TMnHffi lig i

J

»>iitw«(»itimiii» *«!•""'!'''*

^^

ii ii

ii^

P^|iiPMWPS:S;?5^

«?l 1««::j:-^':^^|eMj[-

tiMimmi-

Pf^=.=:=ii

MM

isi

mtu :mi^iB

'

ii«iiHiii»»»*.:

->v^,' V

U

It

yxJt

filll,:

iilMlAlMMWl 4 U

I/.I

'j)iii;i;s«:

a»i|MS;lli«t IIHpf Hi"

am ^^^^¥.-'iim: imii

>'*^.

MHIWlAiiUll

^

»a;"':: '«j,^ »»»>«.:;

..^.>r,

.

v^ItIW

,....„.„.„

m WW

-

\i».iv»/

**^*-z::i=siAw ««««

^i"**'

jir-r*'

f'«K'S' '«'''

I'll"!'

i3Si(

ZSilSS"*^""

^"~~;

.icjaE;

•M'WWKW """

"

"""

"*

'

'

.-

..,•«..<•,.•,,

..... ..V.V.W.M.V-

...V.VWfr..,;..

;

l;^?;m

-i;w;rtiV .v/.V.V.Vif,....

__ __^^,,

-

..

.•."/.../././..„ „

:

J.i^a:i;,^^S ,V.'.V.>.V,Vf..l^....,„„., ,./...',v;,',VA.

>.'iSV.v.v

miiiiiiiiiil

"

""

^ii^Uj^^Hi^^

48. I htckly Settled, 1957.

and

jute, 78.7

X 62 cm

Cotton

(31

X 24K

inches)

Yale University Art Gallery,

New

Haven, Connecticut,

Director's Purchase

52

Fund

1972.83.

....


:HS||;fHl^fjp@||HSi;!mmB?flP^

49. 58.4

The

Open Letter, 1958. Cotton, X 59.7 cm (23 X 23X inches). Josef

and Anni Albers Foundation,

Bethany.

53


50. In the Landscape, 1958.

Cotton and 29.5

X

98.5

jute,

cm

(11 /ÂŤ

X

38

"A<,

inches).

Collection of Dt. William and

Constance G. Kantar.

51. South of the Border, Cotton and wool,

1958.

10.6 X 38.7 cm (4 Mr, X 15 /f, inches). The Baltimore Museum of Art,

Decorative Arts and Contemporary Crafts

Fund

1959.91.

54


52. Pasture, 1958.

cm

Mercerized cotton,

X 15% inches). 39.4 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 35.6

X

New

[i^Yu.

York, Purchase,

Moore,

Jr.,

Gift, 1969

Edward C. 69.1^5.

55


Red and Blue Layers, 1954. Cotton, X 36.8 cm (24 X 14X inches). The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 53-

61

Bethany, Formerly collection of

Mrs. Eleanor Grossman.

56


vv.\

..WW'.

••.'vV.'-.''.

..

.

/iMaavaafP':

W««*«"api'^>'

m'IH'

*•»' lU'Jiji'JiifVi

^

vy;

,tT'ii#ii'iiflil|JPRp-""^^f'

"'"'" '^"'ii/

//I

ir«^

O:

'f if

T

1^ f p » f r ffipFf

Frow rA^- East, 1963. Cotton and 65.4 X 42 cm (25 X 16M inches). 54.

The

Josef and

plastic,

Anni Albers Foundation,

Bethany.

57

:

r f

I

fii

n


55-

Variation on a Theme, 1958.

Cotton, linen, and 87.6

X

77.5

cm

plastic,

(34;/

X

30/<inches)

Collection of Dr. and Mrs.

Theodore

58

Dreier,

Jr.


i.

"••

•5..:5.*i5i::2'"*' •

^•iiiB«i«ai«iia«iia«iriiBWitBapii"?|

V*

^

*«**••'"»•

'

yV

56.

'

'

11

Haiku, 1961. Cotton, hemp,

cm

X 7X

57.2

X

The

Joset and Anni Albers Foundation,

18.4

Bethany.

{ii'A

57.

Code, 1962. Cotton,

hemp,

and metallic thread,

and metallic thread, inches).

cm

58.4

X

The

Josef and

18.4

(23

X 7K

inches).

Anni Albers Foundation,

Bethany.

59


58. Intersecting,

1962.

Cotton and rayon, 40 X 42 (15%,

X

cm

i6'A inches).

Collection of Katharine and

Nicholas Weber.

60


s^M)smtsr?tt.

59.

Liuicr Way, 1963.

Cotton, linen, and wool,

74 X 61.2 cm (29 'A X 24/* inches) Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D.C.,

Bequest of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1986.

61


»ffli!,s^^^!«i;uKiS^i^^^

Wll(i^^^ -^•'VtWt

6o. 5zx Prayers, 1966-67. Cotton, linen, bast,

The

Jewish

Museum, New

and

•,.T.'-tmiM

IMWMIII

>

'

-II

silver thread; six panels, 186

York, Gift of Albert A. List Family JM149-71-6.

62

"^

"""7

x

-'"'

50

cm

(73

X<,

x

19

% inches)

each.


iliiii:

iiii

SiliiS^^^^

IIIIB

;il»i«M*iun(ii[uil!utiMt<u:

a^""''',m

63


On

the Structure of the Weavings

5*c

^^

-!*

• «e %

Jean-Paul Leclercq

6i.

Detail of Two, 1952 (see cat. no. 44).

pattern width

Two

(1952) presents a strictly orthogonal

brown and

pattern in dark

are several right-angle direction changes,

but the entire pattern

is

organized around

the basic unit of the square.

The

weave checkerboard ground

in subtly

trasting tones gives the piece

The

result

is

its

plain-

rhythm.

made

Bauhaus;

at the

thus independent of the

Two

pattern in

that

is,

is

formed by an

and the thick white

additional twill float,

weft

The checkerboard ground

perfectly

mate-

illustrates Albers's interest in texture,

and

structure.

While the weave does

not change, variations

appearance are

in

the patterns of those works are also strictly

achieved through the warping, the shuttling

orthogonal, but are built on intersecting

order,

rectilinear strips

of unequal width.

and the binary properties

the plain weave.

The warping

of

warp

cords),

and the

dency

to play

a study

manufactured

in France.' In this eigh-

teenth-century example, the threads are finer

and there

is

no pattern other than the

one produced by the plain weave and the

alternates

viewed

Albers alternately passed a thin black weft

threads, or

one does

in

conducted around 1790 of fabrics

inversions are

if

Albers drew

example among the samples included

warp and weft

determine

fact that

with structure and material.

thinner white thread. During the weaving,

difficult to

its

But she would have found an identical

between a thick dark cream thread and a

is

weave and

these possibilities here reflects her ten-

direction in which the piece should be

In works with abstract patterns, the

by the play

variations (like the addition of weft or

on

every other ground pick

therefore floats to the back, without binding.

rial,

possibilities afforded

of even and odd (or alternating) threads are very important in plain

width.

The

con-

very different from the hang-

ings that Albers

fabric's

There

yellow.

is

The

and the

the height of the pattern,

materials. Yet the evenne.ss

made with two dark

two dark blue

blue

picks, while the

not understand the designer's intentions.

pick and then a thick white weft pick, thus

other threads, in both the weft and the

In Two, Albers indicated the direction by

creating the two different combinations.

warp, alternate between white and pale

adding her embroidered signature

The warp

In the dark squares, the thick dark

at the

work

blue.

Thus

the squares have a dark outline

cream warp binds and covers the thick

and the checkerboard resembles

white weft, and, conversely, the fine black

on the

lengthwise, in the direction of the warp,

weft can easily be seen because

twigs. Blue

but has a transversal pattern, to be read

to the front

lower right.

in this

is

hori-

was woven

zontal, not vertical; the piece

uncommon,

weftwise. Although generally

goes

it

above the thick warp. This

what produces dominant

is

and white

the material

tabby

lines are created

and the weave;

(which resembles

lines in the

a

of baskerwork made of large

scale

in

by

one square

a vertical rectangle), they

direction of the weft that alternate between

follow the direction of the warp, while in

weft direction can be found in the European

black and dark cream. In the light squares,

the next (which resembles a horizontal

tradition, such as the mid-fitteenth-century

the thick white weft

examples of textiles with

altar-front pieces

a pattern in the

comprised of

a single

horizontally, with a very large pattern

which binds the

made of a

single

comber

eightcenth-ccntury

unit. Patterns

found

textiles in

woven

in

which the

two or more

bands within the width of the such

cases, the

width of ihc

fabric. In

fabric

front,

becomes

set apart

keeping

it

fine black weft

rectangle), they follow the direction of the

when

on the

rather hidden.

The checkerboard

in late-

pattern has a top end intended for furniture borders; these are

is

it is

above the thick dark cream warp,

it

in the weft direction are also

bound only by

the thin white warp, but

width of figured gold brocaded velvet used

unit

is

pattern

is

one square

to

another

accomplished by warping two consecu-

tive threads

from the same warp;

direction of the warp,

it

is

in

the

executed during

weaving, with two consecutive picks of the

64

same

weft.

result

is

a fabric that appears to

and warp threads

as these squares

and bound

in

as

wide

the form of

weave.

created

In the direction of

the weft, going from

The

consist of weft

a plain is

very simply, by inverting evenness at the

end of each square.

weft.

I.

Registre d'Enqucte Industrielle, Toiles et

Mu.see de

Toileries (Paris, ca. 1790),

Mode

et

du

Textile, Palais

Union Centrale des Arts

la

du Louvre,

Paris,

Decoratifs, p. 329.


62. Detail

of La Luz

/,

1947 (see

cat. no. 39).

brocading

not on top of the binding sys-

is

tem, but rather introduces

At

first,

La Luz I (1947) seems

graphic quaht)' that

work and

Albers's

is

have

to

a

foreign to the rest ot

Bauhaus

to the

own

its

system,

reasons, but in these

weave on

been

several consecutive picks.

its

symmetrical pattern suggests a cross

the pattern, AJbers played with both the

some

material and the weave; the

The

eagle.

piece's scale,

as

an

however, allows us

to perceive the individual play of threads,

with twelve warp threads and seven picks per centimeter.

The

varies greatly, as the thick

weft

is

in this

brownish-yellow

processes used by Albers

work can be found

later in

cailigraphic-stir'le "pictorial

This

is

wider

in the

in the

warp

it

weh

number

approximately half a centimeter

Some of the

wide.

latter

appears

at

plain strips,

weft direction than

The

the top and

it is

bottom

in the

comes from the warp

twill (3/1,

S direction), with the space between threads giving the textile a

But elsewhere

it

warp

dominant

weft.

varies, ver\' irregularly in

area

weave variations

seeming

to

remove any

textiles,

repetitions. Irregularities are created

through weaving by the inclusion ot additional wefts in certain areas,

where they

on the back,

rather than

to get to

weaving on the

which

is

of Albers's "pictorial weavings.

"

process,

used in

The

thread from one pick to the next, exposing

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;which,

such as

.-Mbers,

sometimes crossed

thus introducing a local binding .system

(in

between two ground

10 the

are the

kinds of liberties allowed by tapestr\' work as

it

wa.s practiced

by the Copts. Ihe

its

horizontal

in other pieces

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

or even vertical lines

which case the weft thread runs

warp

lines to

be

by

Frotyt the East (1963), are

other warp threads float freely to the back,

These

all

process

accentuates the continuirv' of the weft

vertical course as well as

parallel

thread). For these shapes

visible, the scale

and

of the weft

thread in relation to the pattern and to the textile has to be large

enough

for the

course of a single thread to be seen, as it is

in Albers's

Haiku (1962),

(1961),

Black-White-Gold I (i^^o).

Code

(1962), Intersecting

and From the

The technique

continuitv' of the weft thread

pick to the next

is

a

is

from one

hidden feature and

a violation ot a

premise of Western

next

its

Andean

front, this

practiced today,

is still

or along the selvages, where the

pattern weft thread does not integrate

which

starting point. Technically facilitated by

oblique lines

weave by

European examples, these returns

does not have a prominent graphic quality,

main pattern, the brocaded

cading wefts are bound

picks.

else-

are obtained through material,

its

threads, while the

too fine for

into the selvage weave. In such works, the

and

one. This produces rounded shapes,

in plain

much

file is

graphic quality to have been utilized.

In other

brocading wefts. In some places these bro-

warp

an element

appear more often on the backs of the

the ground, and there are also additional

several consecutive

its

thread repeatedly returns on the front,

long

seems to have

integration ot the brocading and with

In the

basic weave, as

it

varied shuttling order competes with the

wcavings.

a short, horizontal piece,

direction.

and the gold

grounds

by the use of complex or uneven thread.

her

works

a constraint, rather than

of the pattern; the patterns are figurative

Despite the general simplicity ot

aesthetic:

of symbolic bird, such

thread brocaded elements for technical

using the same warp threads as the ground

or

sort

used in fifteenth-century velvets with gold-

East.

of placing the returns

of the brocading thread on the front was

65

fundamental

textiles.


ijr^M.::

'm-'^-'^m.

',^'^-^^*

•-?

.•^M...L..<*->':^iir

r-«x./„0M>«^

««)

...

f '3

^'-

f?" ^"^^

^-^ W:''

63. Detail

Sfe«>

pm.tv^^-

1!^ mif «*B»-.--

of In the Landscape, 1958

'

: f»

^i^. _^»

lat

i

changes color according to a tapestry

technique, but

(see cat. no. 50).

it is still

bound by

the

colored warp. In the Landscape (1958), like also a horizontal piece

It

has a striped and banded plain weave,

with brocading that

and

is

shifts

about on the face

With warping

that alternates between

and thick threads

various colors, the textile, which

is

in

loosely

woven, presents a dominant weft, though its

weave appears

to

have a square pattern

because the warp threads bind the weft picks of the

same

and

between

a thick colored weft,

except in the bands at the top and bottom,

where a thick orange-yellow thread used exclusively

is

Elsewhere, the black warp (the

pick),

and

as

odd

odd

both are fine they are rather

inconspicuous. Meanwhile, the colored

warp

(the even thread) binds the colored

weft (the even pick), both of which have

heavy sections. In some

(yG

is

added on the

lat

which

is

tabby.

black warp threads bind the brocading

with the fine black weft simultaneously,

When

it is

bound by

in this way, the

dark blue,

is

areas, the basic

the fine black

warp

brocading pick, which

barely interrupted visually

is

and

appears to be continuous, winding above the squarelike

ground produced by the

plain weave.

This

is

a

good example

uses of a single weave,

of the diverse

which here has been

varied through the unique possibilities offered by the warping, the shuttling order,

and the

local

doubling of one of the two

ground picks with

in the weft:.

thread) binds the black weft (the

The

warp-

material. Like the

ing, the shuttling order alternates a fine black weft

pick

front of the binding system,

with the two passes together in the shed.

vertical in certain areas.

fine black threads

The brocading

La Luz /(1947),

with a short warp.

is

a

brocading pick. This

produces a double tabby weave, which is

typical

of silk

textiles.


:MiiJH»J»ZMliI£

,

'"-VWi

ummMnmu. l2;il»HT1Tgfc

m ravvftjij

iTx;

ttBOSEET

ttumiulirunmi YiimiMni 64. Detail oi Black-White-Gold

brown

variation in the order:

1950

I,

jute pick

gold lamella pick

in the first shed,

(see cat. no. 41).

65. Detail

in the

of

Intersecting,

1962

(see cat. no. 58).

second.

Black-White-Gold I

example ot torial

{\<)so)

is

a

The warping

superb

Alber.s's calligraphic-style "pic-

weavings." Like her La Ltiz /(1947)

and In

the Landscape (1958),

also pre-

is

it

sented in the direction of the warp, but is

it is

its

it

longer in the direction of the warp than in the direction

larger

dimension

of the weft is

that

is,

not horizontal.

Here again Albcrs used

a striped,

distinct use of the curves of

the face.

varies. Similarly, the

the two alternating wefts,

are based

threads: even

have

ways to create a background with squares.

The low

density of the weave

pared to the scale oi the piece

com-

eight

warp

threads and three to tour vveh picks per

centimeter

allows the threads to be read

individually, while the curves

and white brocading picks

The ground weave strips

of

is

patterned in vertical

a single color or a

of two colors

brown and

of the black

are highlighted.

combination

black, black

and white,

brown

—with the

black, or

and

jute

all

and odd

of the

threads,

ot

which

of which have a delicate section; only

odd threads with

a

The

and the

jute are

the white

odd

bound

threads,

is

some

and

in

lamella

when

is

the

The

lamella

by

places

other places

by the black even threads. The

luster

of the

interrupted most emphatically

warp binding

it is

black and wide.

inversion in this piece

is

vertical,

created by t%vo consecutive jute picks,

following the principle of evenness inversions. (Albers's

Two

[1952]

is

an example

of double evenness inversion,

warp and the

in

some

cases lat

but

in others, yielding several inversions

of contrast and

warp

Generally, the

readabilit)'.

both the

weft.)

67

threads, as there

one brocading pick picks;

heasy section; only even

threads with a heasy section.

in

brocaded threads are bound by the same

warp all

brocading on

white, orange, and blue

with the warp thread and ground not

heavy section; even and odd threads,

a

The

brocaded thread contrasts

reveals

four combinations, which

on the section

and brocaded plain weave, playing with the

complex

warp

brown

gold lamella, to varying degrees. As a

warping and shuttling order

in

a particularly

the visibility of the white and black in the

warp

banded, and

Intersecting (\<)6i), a striped,

brocaded tabby, presents

threads, but

because .some are thin and others thick,

result, there are

banded,

between white

alternates

odd threads and black even

there

it is is

ground

is

a

proportion of

for every

rwo ground

tabby hound, however, where

one brocading pick pick.

for every


From

66. Detail of

More

the East, 1963

From

mon

the East {1963) transforms the

com-

look of a warp

twill 3/1

using only

The

pass has

one more pick

shuttling order.

its

ground

pick, the

ing

The

lat.

twill

a lisere

which

weft. This produces a gold lamella binding

warp

the

twill 3/1,

resembling a binding by

same warp threads on

all

picks.

even and odd: the warp

is

prepared with

eight repetitions of a sequence comprised

of eight black threads, eight orange threads, eight white threads, threads.

The

and eight more orange

degree to which the luster

of the lamella

is

interrupted by the bindings

depends on the color of the ends. As is

lamella in the

end the

textile,

which

in this

start

and

work have an

from

width,

its

warp

twill 3/1

weave that

formed with the orange weft, but ues in a pick,

winding fashion,

on the

like a

the place where

The

it

is

contin-

brocading

face (in accordance with

and returns

Albers's favorite principle), it

to

will next replace the

relief has

been enhanced by

the use of the beater in places where the

lamella

bands that

results

the lamella stops where the thick black

The

in the

This

greater than that of the orange

weft passes; this weft then replaces the

ground weave (from which

variations have

each of the orange

that follow. Conversely, like a brocading

weavings," one has to search for the

been made)

lat. is

lamella.

often the case with Albers's "pictorial

like

band formed by the four orange weft picks

lat,

Here Albers was not playing with

and the brocad-

lisere\3.t,

lamella comprises part of the

ground weave,

followed by four picks of a fine orange

in

Albers's violation

is

weft picks, but seems to have an effect like

than the weave: a wide gold lamella, which is

interesting

of the usual distinction between the

(see cat. no. 54).

is

almost absent in a single pick.

higher relief

is

met

two

in

two of the black threads cross

areas,

where

an X.

in

Here two or more small hand shuttles have been used for a single medium, another

all-black weft.

Being supple, the lamella sinks below the bindings, losing

its

flatness

on an appearance similar

and taking

characteristic is

of brocading; only one shuttle

used for a single material

when

it

involves a

ground

lamellas u.sed by embroiderers in the seven-

patterning

lat,

teenth and eighteenth centuries. This

with a shuttle across the entire width of

resemblance, which most likely

the fabric.

can be found as well as in

tradition.

68

in

to the pleated

is

many of Albers's

fortuitous,

works,

examples from Europe's

textile

lat,

a lisere \at, or a weft-

since the passage

is

performed


67- Detail of

Open

Letter, 1958

(see cat. no. 49).

threads; the

threads with irregular sections in this and

applies also to the white weft.

Letter

(i'.)$S) is

based on a plain weave,

with gauze variations

in several areas.

It

a

is

are

rather than in the effect of the threads.

the different weft

Elsewhere, the plain weave brings out

as

an organizing principle

The warping

is

in

her weaving.

composed of a

sequence of r%vo white threads (the

which

a spiral thread) lollowed

is

first

of

by two

in a different

first

two

and contrasting material than

that of the last rwo.

As

a result, the

work

has a two-level, binary a.spect.

There forty-eight

weaving

warping

are twelve

warp threads

units, or

altogether,

of

and warp thread

colors.

The

warp and weft threads

warp

that are not used act

as a visual base for the deviating

white

bound only by

threads that

sveft

the white

threads that are

warp

threads, the

two black

effect

on the other hand,

back; the black areas, are

woven with black weft threads that the black warp threads,

ser\'e as

the gauze.

transparent gauze that involves

arc

is

uncertain since

it

technique used by Albers

floating to the back.

be found

where there

all

the

depends on the surface

the rwo white threads of the warping unit

among

are black

on a white background,

visual

threads and picks, as in this case the effect

under the

In the areas

warp

The

thus better controlled than with a

is

bound only by

rectangles

types,

black and white

woven with

and the

effects are organized in strips

and

textures,

threads: the white areas are

threads of the warping unit floating to the

black threads; hence the warping unit consists of four threads, with the

the color contrast between the

effects in the piece

produced by various combinations of

weaves; for her, textile art lay in the weave,

prime example of Albers's use of the binary

principle, but in reverse,

The many gauze

other pieces, she preferred to play with

Open

same

nature of the thread. Although Albers used

piece. Instances

in the

European

work can

textile tradition;

the gauzes by Tabourier, Bisson et

Cie that were presented

the

of the gauze in this

at the 1889

World

equal width that follow the direction of the

weave becomes an extended tabby with

Fair, for

warp. These strips are divided horizontally

two warp

with green weft and warp gauze on a

at intervals

traverse the

by bands ol plain weave that width ot the

though these bands ceptible, they

The

red

fabric;

even

are practically imper-

produce

a pattern

of squares.

from the brocading pick

is

added

in places to the black

and white of the

warp and the ground

weft. In plain-weave

areas involving

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

thread

its

all

the threads, the spiral

winding quality highlighted

by the two black threads of the warping unit

fabric,

lends a dense gauze look to the

which

is

due not to the texture of

the fabric, but rather to the composite

threads; the white weft

warp threads and the The principle

is

the

bound,

is

by the two black

in alternating fashion,

r^vo

white ones.

same

in the areas

pink background and unused weft threads floating without binding to the back.

with

white rectangles on

a

but here the weft

black instead of white.

is

is

ing alternates between the rwo black warj

thread; the white spiral to the back.

The warp

warp

warp thread

floats

tension causes

the rwo ribs corresponding to the black weft binding to protrude, by a single thread,

which

is

white. Ihe

warp

relief inverts

with the following weft pick, which is

bound on

the face with the

is

both

a red

either white or black that

is

woven

in

in a

tabby with one of the warps. Here the visu-

black and the bin/

threads and the second, thin white

In specific areas, there

brocaded weft and an additional weft

black background,

In the areas with black ribs striped

with white, the weft

example, was a rwo-color piece,

nvo black

69

al

distinction between

brocading pick

is

ground pick and

blurred.


^^l-^^':iK' ViV

68. Textile sample, ca. 1945.

Cellophane and

jute, 91

(35% X 40 inches).

Museum Gift of

70

of Art,

X

101.5

cm

The Metropolitan

New

York,

Anni Albers 1970.75.9.

'^'''^^V\*''A'A\V''^^,\\\m\H


69. lextile sample, ca. i960. Linen,

90 X

133

cm

{35

X X 52 K inches).

The Metropohtan Museum

New

ot Art,

York, Gift of Anni Albcrs

1970.75.16.

71


70. Drapery material, ca. 1935Cellophane, rayon, and cotton,

cm (126 X 32X inches). The Museum of Modern Art, 320

X

82.5

New York,

Gift of the designer

67.75-SC. .1

71.

Drapery material,

Jute

and

X

'JltlTiit

1961.

metallic thread,

cm (48 X 52 inches). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of the designer 121.9

.-

132.1

68.75-SC.

im

m


Drapery material,

72.

ca. 1948.

Cotton and metallic thread,

mi^mm^Mm

109.2 cm (68% X 43 inches). Museum oi Modern Art,

X

174

'm^"

The

New

York,

(iift

of the designer

63.75.SC.

:^^^(^/'ÂŁ;i^

73. Partition material, ca. 1949.

Cotton,

jute, horsehair,

and cellophane, (59

X X 33X

151

x

85

cm

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New

York, Gift of

1970.75.12.

73

Anni Albers


74- Wall-covering material, ca. 1930.

325.1

X

Linen and cellophane,

119. 4

cm

(128

X 47

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.4.

75. Textile

sample,

ca. 1935.

Cellophane, cotton, and rayon, 174

X 82 cm

(68 'Ax

}!'/ÂŤ

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.13.

74


76. Textile sample, 1940. Rayon,

260.4 ^

8'-3

'-"ni

(102 X

X

32 inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Gift of Anni Albcrs

1970. 75. 11.

75

York,


77- Textile sample, date

Cotton, 28

unknown.

X 20 cm

(11 X 7 /s inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.72.

78. Textile sample, date

unknown.

Cotton and wool, 28.5 X 20 cm (11 K X 7 ?{ inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.69.

j6


79- Textile sample, dace

unknown.

Cotton and wool, 28.5

X

19

cm

(11

<

X

7 / inches).

The Metropolitan Museum

New

of Art,

York, Gift oi Anni Albers

I970-7S-70.

80. Textile .sample, date

Cotton and 27 X 20.5

unknown.

linen,

cm

(10

%x

S'A inches).

The Metropolitan Museum

New

1970.75.68.

..,./.n'.v.ViV,',v.'.v

..,.,</,'.v,',v.'.',<,«.«,,^^ '

»,

, .

.

.

w

.

I

I

>

>

I

J (

L(

«

I

I

M, ''''•'*•••

"'v.«i'i».v.».'.'»»,t,'.vi

N'ri'iN'i'iVjWi'i'A

'.S'tS'i'.'.'iS'i'iV't'i').

>

»

•.S'.'.'.'.V.'.V.V.V,"""" •'"''"

#

.11 II LLl. I I.I

1.1

... .J

...'•••'' •

".1-1-l.ilV

V^\W^W^hw('l'^''''''

77

ot Art,

York, Gift of Anni Albers


'

8i.

Textile sample, date

Cotton and 28

X

21

cm

unknown.

jute, (11

X

8

^ inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

'J^J^^^*>

%».t.t.r.».M.»,».r.#ii.»'."

Gift of Anni Albers

»

<«•

mSmSMfSMSSnmSoSSSaa

1970.75.73.

KaqfflHHHBSBBW

l.Hi>!M.\u.»ii?!J.;!r,;:.^,.:i;,^

ifS«»-B5a«aiUajiMoti3^iii;v

82. Textile

sample, date unknown.

Cotton and 28

X

21

linen,

cm (11X8^

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of

Anni Albers

1970.75.71. 1(11

I

.

. (

1

« • I

1

n

,

1

I

I

I

I

«

I

I

1

I

I

1

I

I

)

»«

)

(

t

I

I

1

M

<

I

'

,

'^^'l^:.y,^^^^v.^'i.^^!.:i^^:.'.^v,:,^^:.^^y,^:,:,^^^'.^y;,!i^^^^

fl*4MfMtM»*M((M*HM«i

78

t 1,1

";l

111

It


83.

Upholstery material,

ca. 1929.

19.4 cm /% inches). Ihc Museum of Modern Art, New York,

Cotton and rayon,

11.4

X

i^'Ax

Gift of Josef Albers 450.70.61.

84.

Drapery material, date

unknown. Cotton and metal foil, 28 X 44 cm (11 X 17X inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gik of Anni Albers 1970.75.20.

85. Textile

sample,

ca. 1946.

Cotton, linen, and metal

toil,

X 45 cm (13 'Ax i-jYa inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 34

New

York, Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.18.

79


86. Wall-covering material, 1929. Raffia, cellophane,

and

linen,

II. 2 X 23.8 cm (4 X X 9 X inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New York,

Gift of the designer

426.51.

'«i«w_w>»>ss=a s .^^'

.W.WWa'K'ab'B^

'-^•Mg'«-tW--'»w'g»»fgV»'»W«w - 'a'K<h V-

'tf«WB?'

':i-«'

87. Textile sample, date

••

--'

-;'

;-

'

'

';.

t-eK''i(i-

unknown.

Linen and rayon,

X 26.6 cm

X loX inches). The Museum of Modern Art, 17.7

New York,

(7

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.62.

!g^?

88.

Wall-covering material, 1929.

Raffia, cellophane,

and

linen,

cm {4'/iX II inches). The Museum of Modern Art, II.

4 X 30.5

New

York, Gift of the designer

424.51.

.UOI

80


89. W;dl-covi.Min<; material, 1929-

SffiSSSSiS^^

Raffia, cellophane,

mmqmMkiitoUii

1

he

and

linen,

cm (4/ X II X Museum of Modern

X

1.4

1

New

30.2

inches).

Art,

York, Cnft of the designer

421.51.

SMawowtt«i»«l^^ OMBWVV nBiwnnniirtninnn.1

Tt^pms. i^f^HrsAHi!^ -1

4

-rj** (*

r1 -

^fc^

^

*~^

after 1933. 15.2

r

Cotton and rayon,

cm (6 X 8 inches). Museum of Modern Art,

X

The

New

20.3

York, Gift of Josef Albers

*

450.70.60.

.I-.V ,-»^'

\

90. Textile sample, prohahly

.

« -'-a

9

91.

Wall-covering material, 1929.

Raffia, cellophane, II.

linen,

cm (4X X 12 inches). Museum of Modern Art,

4 X 30.5

The

New

York,

423.51.

81

and

Ciift

of the designer


,:

92. Wall-covering material,

probably

after 1933.

Cellophane,

cm (5 X X 8 X inches). 13.9 The Museum of Modern Art, X

21

New York,

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.91.

TT^^tr

Wall-covering material,

93.

probably after 1933. Cellophane,

cm (5 X X 6 X inches). The Museum of Modern Art, 14

X

15.9

New York,

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.93.

btr ^r n tr 11 -

l^ pit;

ti II

94. Wall-covering material,

probably after

1933.

Cellophane,

cm (4^X 6/^ inches). The Museum of Modern Art, 12. 1

X

New

:-

"*# 11=

:-'

"^

*r-

*F

ft

r

^-

*i^

-

:>

"ifr

,;:

m m^ «r

jft

450.70.92.

:;:

y^

ti

ti^

tt

^

<

tt r *t :vtt? tM^ If; x ## ;^

A1

ft

fV

It

fl

n

I*

tl n s «# «^ ft n ft n W ft It rr-

15.6

York, Gift of Josef Albers

** *i-

- :ti"

ja JLiiiii :ii::it:li:ii:u tt." JK TK^Jt^H!

^a ;

- -fl^'^„;

:

IR' ft

I n n

tr rt

rr

gfV ti rr w *r vr

82

ft

tt

It 1* rr It

#r It rr ft

tt «F If rr tr If tr rr ft 4¥ ft

tt

ft it

n

n

f* tt w^ II

rt-;.j

tt

tt

it ft tt tt tt it ft tt tt tt tt it it it rt rt iti; tt

n n

it

ti

n

If ft. tt ft ft

U

ti

tt

«i^

tt It ff tt tt ft ft tt

tr tt tt *r IK tt tu tr It tr ft tf 1* ft fi^ tt »' rr tt tr tr t» tt tr tt-


95- Textile

sample,

Fiberglass, 19

(7X X

5

x

15

ca. 1948.

The Metropolitan Museum

New

tl;*iÂŤ

cm

X inches). of Art,

York, Gift of Anni Albcrs

1970.75.59-

96. Textile sample, date

unknown.

Cellophane and cotton,

X

22.5

18.5

cm

(8X X 7X inches).

The Metropolitan

New

Museum

ol Art,

York, Gift of Anni Albers

1970.7S-S7-

97. Textile sample, date

unknown.

Cellophane and cotton, 20 X 19 cm (7X X 7/ inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New

York, Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.56.

98. Textile sample, ca. 1948.

Fiberglass, 21

x

13.5

(8Xx 5X inches). The Metropolitan Museum

New

York, Gift of

'I

cm of Art,

Anni Albers

i

1970.75.58.

83


99. Textile sample, date

Cotton and (11

X

linen, 28

X

unknown. 21

cm

8 /finches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

'mi.

Gift of Anni Albers

I970.75-4IC.

100. Textile sample, date

Cotton and

unknown.

linen,

28 X 20.5 cm (11 X 8X inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New

York, Gift of

Anni Albers

i970.75-4ib-

•"v^r^-x:

sample, date unknown.

loi. Textile

ii:^.

Cotton and

linen,

X 20 cm (10 >( X 7 /s inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 27

J-'

#.:'•"

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

i970.75-4ia.

102. Textile sample, date

Cotton and 27 X 20

cm

unknown.

^

linen, (10

M!

X 7X

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

iSP

'J'

i-r

id^

Gift of Anni Albers

i^RliP^

•,!

'

.

,*^^ •

84

.'i^

'

^a^j^

1970.75.43.

'

'vir

inches).


103.

sample, date unknown.

Textile

C^otton and linen, 23

X

18

cm

(9

X -

:(

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum

New

York,

Gih

of Art,

Anni Albers

of

1970.75.61.

104. Textile sample, 1950.

Cotton and 16 X 19

cm

linen,

(loX X

7M inches). The Metropolitan Museum of

New

Art,

York, Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.60.

mm.

105. lextile

sample,

ca. 1949.

Linen and metallic thread,

X 37 cm (17 X X 14X inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 45.5

New

York, Gift of

Anni Albers

SIS 1^;-

1970.75.17.

106. Textile sample, ca. 1959.

Cotton and

cm

linen,

42 X

35

New

York, Gift of Anni Albers

X X 13 K inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (16

•»»•*« ••tint'

1970.75.26.

I

mtttiUiiiVi

85


loy. Textile sample, ca. 1951.

Jute

and

metallic thread,

X 17.7 cm (8 % X 7 inches). The Museum of Modern Art, 21

New

York, Gift of Josef AJbers

450.70.74-

108. Textile sample, ca. 1951.

Jute and metallic thread, 24.2

X

16.5

cm

{c)'Ax 6'A inches).

The Museum of Modern

New York,

Art,

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.72.

109. Wall-covering material,

probably

after 1933.

Cotton and metallic thread, 27.9 X II. 4 cm (11 X 4X inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New York,

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.66.

no. Casement material, 1950.

Cotton or synthetic and metal

foil,

cm (11 X 6 X inches). 27.9 The Museum of Modern Art, X

17. 1

New York, 450.70.80.

86

Gift of Josef Albers


111.

Textile

sample,

ca. 1951.

Linen and metallic thread, 25.4 X 17.8 cm (10 X 7 inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New

York. Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.73.

112.

Textile

sample,

ca. 1951.

Linen and metallic thread, 27.9 X 15.9 cm (11 X 6X inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New York,

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.79.

kt-

r

t^

113.

Textile sample, ca. 1933. Linen,

e*ii^::::^vJ^5=^

cm (9x8 inches). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Josef Albers 22.8

X

20.3

-«|lt<.'^-'-»U^

450.70.70. 't

"i

>

'>-^: 114. Textile

sample, probably after

;'j'\

XM

1933. Linen, 24.1

(9X X of

8 inches).

Modern

Art,

X

20.3

cm

The Museum

New

York,

Gift of Josef Albers 450.70.71.

^m-^

r-

87

*t(*


Textile sample, probably after

115.

X 26.6 cm X loX inches). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1933. Silk, 17.7 (7

Gift of Josef Albers 450.70.63.

Wall-covering material,

116.

ca. 1950.

X

29.2

Jute and metallic thread,

12.7

cm

(iiX

X

5

inches).

The Museum of Modern

New

Art,

York, Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.65.

w ^^^sStftrS-kJiSiS:

i vfvii>< ^;v'*^''^!.4>.^j'-V*^

117.

Wall-covering material,

ca. 1950.

29.2

X

Jute and metallic thread,

12.1

cm {n'Ax

^'4 inches).

The Museum of Modern

New York,

Art,

,l!a.^raa ;

^

«.

i.__;

i^^-aa r-TiS

^'TV'^--'^ j*-'^ *

'

fVrsa **^J-^C

^__,

'J-'^^^^'i'

"^ 7\ ~*-*

''^^

-

:r^''

"'f 'l.?J( 5^^P* Pv.i^

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.64. »-J^ ,^ _" » 1

118.

Evening-coat material, 1946.

,

i

"-.^iS-'^

? t.~B ^^j=

(fWii

J>^.?^

Linen, cotton, and Lurex, 33

X

29.8

cm

(13

X

II

K

inches).

The Museum of Modern

New York,

Art,

Gift of the designer

434-5I-I^J' ''

14i~« i%IC

i

mtm\

'

~ ~

-

^:^ ifrti^ -'

^mMMi^M^.

t^~^^-jSY{'^^

'h^ '^^ if^rr.i^

A.rtj

Hit

FTK^

.^1»1J*^

jT-gc

'R^.,

'

'-


119- Textile

sample,

ca. 1948.

Harnessmaker's thread, 18 X 8 cm {7 'Ax yA inches). The Metropohtan Museum ot An,

New

York,

Clitt ot

Aiini Albcrs

I970.75-77-

120.

Fextile

sample,

ca. 1948.

Harnessmaker's thread, 10.3 X 7.6 cm (4/1. X 3 inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New

York, Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.100.

121.

Textile sample, ca. 1948.

Harnessmaker's thread, 21.6 X 8.3 cm (8 >^ X 3 ;< inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New

York, (lih of Josef Albers

450.70.101.

122.

Fextile

sample,

^-%-^~

ca. 1948.

Harnessmaker's thread, 15.9

X

S.i

cm {6Ax }A

The Museum

New

of

'i

Âť^'ryiki/J inches).

Modern

Art,

York, Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.99.

.1

.xi-y-f-^y ff-

"f-^l^^l

89

1^


"

sample, probably after

123- Textile

^Tf'^f^^- .i-yy^'1^

Cotton and metallic thread,

1933.

16.5 X 19 cm (6X X 7X inches). The Museum of Modern Art,

New York,

Gift of Josef Albers

450.70.81.

1 ;^

unknown. X 24 cm

124. Textile sample, date

Cotton and (6

/(.

X

9

7,6

linen, 16

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

A_

•\«»5v.jfc»^

,v^»..

j^,^

fil..-

.,<

ajflr'-' OHT

fjtr-

um£< ,JU^ -^k^

|iTi>"

_^

<•»•. j«io«». rt«?a» «{!»^

ilifi*!

>»—

Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.42.

^i^^o

dtfe>^

.i»i« t,a«i< Mki^,

»>> aC> bi^ £^^iik^

,x»

filk— •!^».

i—

^ .£rti£r^[^;i&r^

-

-

'

>*k^' W*2^^

dfc-

•«.;»SiS'

125.

«9»*' >^to: fcsr^

wsh

ida-' .js"

ii^v ,««?- ^.^^ ^**> ,a»*..^ -^-.

!*=-

^Ji»i:^>

w^.

jfc-;^-

j41

*^ a^. «^44^. :.s;:dS:^

Upholstery material, 1929.

X

19.7

U'Ax 7 finches). The Museum of Modern

Art,

Cotton and rayon,

New

11. 4

cm

York, Gift of the designer

419.51.

S^Si^ii

90


-\^

"",*'

•.•rrTr:*

i960. Linen,

ca. 53

'

Knitted casement material,

126.

X

39 cni (20 X

X

The Metropolitan

New

15

X inches).

Museum

of Art,

York, Ciih ot Anni Albers

1970.75.22.

127.

Wall-covering material, 1929.

Designed

for the

auditorium

of the Allgemeinen Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundesschule, Bernau, Germany. Cotton and

X 12.7 cm (9X5 inches). The Museum of Modern Art, cellophane, 22.9

New

York, Gift of the designer

433-5I-

mm Knitted casement material,

128. ca.

i960.

Cotton and metallic thread, 57 X 35.5 cm (22%. X 14 inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New

York, Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.21.

129. Textile

Cotton and

X

cm

sample, date unknown. linen,

X 8X inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 28

New

21

(11

York, Gift of Anni Albers >

1970.75.62.

,1

,

K

).i .J.

«.»

I.

vV'.V.V.ht .1.1 1'liV'Ni

i.«,V,j.*K«.'«.V.»',V»"''.'i

liJWfl

91


sample, 1950.

130. Textile

Cotton and 32.5

jute,

X 48 cm

(12

HxiS'A

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75. 31a.

131.

Textile sample, 1950.

Cotton and 67.3

X

34

linen,

cm

il6'/iX 13

%

inches).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

Gift of Anni Albers

I970.75-34-

92


I ***4i4«i<a«

V?""""

«••••»**

^ffi^fi .«*l«|l*«« «»4»ltl««

«••«<•••

•••4«»«»-"'

-.

.

«

.

•(•Aiatt*

-

:::::::«

jSgaa lit! ii*«ia«i«

ifaitiMr

•vtatisit

?::5:c

Mt.M, I

,

Jl

»

I

Ml

11

I

•».

I

I

I

"I

•»••«,

1

I

I

••««•»••» **•«*•«•«

'••»«•••.

132. Textile

Cotton and

««««••*••{

sample, 1950. linen,

33 X 34 cm (13 X 13 X inches). The Metropolitan Museum of

New

Art,

York, Gift of Anni Albers

1970.75.32.

93


Constructing Textiles

Anni Albers

Retrospection, though suspected of being the preoccupation of conservators,

can also serve

an active agent. As an antidote for an elated sense of

as

progress that seizes us from time to time,

proper proportion and makes

it

shows our achievements

in

where we have

possible to observe

it

advanced, where not, and where, perhaps, we have even retrogressed. It

thus can suggest

When we

new

areas for experimentation.

examine recent progress

the curious realization that the to a closely defined area

.

.

.

in

momentous development we find is limited new fibres and finishes. While

the process of weaving has remained virtually

unchanged

for

textile

uncounted

about far-reaching changes, greater

changes perhaps than even those brought about through the

mechanics of

to

the creation of

centuries, textile chemistry has brought

in the

we come

cloth-making,

production during the

fast

century.

last

advance

We

find

the core of textile work, the technique of weaving, hardly touched by our

modern

wider area has acutely affected the

age, while swift progress in the

quality as

much

as the quantity

around the center has taken

of our

methods of weaving have not only

place,

been neglected, but some have even been forgotten easy to visualize

It is

how

intrigued, as

of ancient Peru would be in looking over the

been exposed

achievements. production,

He would

at the

the low price.

to

it,

marvel,

of

we can imagine,

He would

weaver

of our day. Having textiles fair

and having judge of our

speed of mass

at the

uniformity of threads, the accuracy of the weaving and

He would

crease-resistant,

enjoy the

new

yarns used

.

.

rayon, nylon, aralac,

.

name some of the most important

admire the materials that are glazed or water-repellant,

permanent pleated, or flame-retarding, mothproof or

shrinkage-controlled and those finishes.

textiles

of time.

as mystified, a

he can be considered a

dacron, orlon, dynel, and Fibreglas, to ones.

in the course

much

to the greatest culture in the history

been himself a contributor

while a development

fabrics. In fact,

made

Even our traditionally used

treated with them.

He would

well as of the chemical

fluorescent ...

fabrics take

learn with

methods of

all

results of

our new

on new properties when

amazement of the physical as which give them their

treating fabrics,

Though our may be surprised unknown to him, as

tensile strength or their reaction to alkalis or acids, etc.

Peruvian to see

critic is

accustomed

new nuances and

to a large scale

of colors, he

often a brilliance hitherto

well as a quantitative use of color surpassing anything he

expert

had imagined.

The wonder of this new world of textiles may make our ancient feel very humble and may even induce him to consider changing

his craft

and taking up chemistry or mechanical engineering. These

are

the two major influences in this great development, the one affecting the

94


quality of the working material, and the other the technique of production.

But strangely enough, he may Hnd that neither one would serve him his specific interest: the intricate interlocking

of two

Concentrating

his attention

now on

this particular

work, he would have a good chance of regaining

monotony would

strange

looked

most

at millions

him. In if

many

in

at right

find

textile

as

he

in the simplest technique. In

one glance the principle of construction,

at

most oi the more complex weaves

his search for inventiveness in

examples to fascinate him.

any,

phase of

his self-confidence.

him and puzzle him, we imagine,

strike

of yards of fabric woven

he would recognize

cases,

and he would even few,

of threads

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;weaving.

angles

A

sets

familiar to

weaving techniques, he would find

He

himself

would

feel that

he had

suggestions to offer.

An

impartial critic of our present civilization

would

attribute this

number of factors. He would point out an age of machines, substituting more and more mechanisms for

barrenness in today's weaving to a that

handwork,

limits in the

same measure the

versatility

of work.

He would

explain that the process of forming has been disturbed by divorcing the

planning from the making, since a product today

no longer

in the

Thus

hands of many,

in the

hands of one. Each member of the production

mechanically his share to control.

is

its

formation according to

a plan

the spontaneous shaping of a material has been

blueprint has taken over.

A

line

beyond lost,

adds

his

and the

design on paper, however, cannot take into

account the fine surprises of a material and make imaginative use of them.

Our

critic

would point out

that this age

promotes quantitative standards

of value. Durability of materials, consequently, no longer constitutes value per se and elaborate

of pleasure.

Our

critic

workmanship

would show

is

a

no longer an immediate source

that a division

between

art

and

craft,

or between fine art and manufacture, has taken place under mechanical

forms of production; the one carrying almost entirely

spiritual

emotional values, the other predominantly practical ones. logical that the

the in

its

has

new development should

making of useful

clarify the role

objects, paralleling the

It is

and therefore

of usefulness

in

development of art, which

process of clarification has divested itself of a literary by-content and

become

abstract.

Though

the weight of attention

is

now

given to practical forms

purged of elements belonging to other modes of thought, aesthetic qualities nevertheless are present naturally

and inconspicuously. Avoiding decorative

additions, our fabrics today are often beautiful, so clear use

of the raw material, bringing out

its

we

believe,

through the

inherent qualities. Since even

95


solid colors istics

might be seen

we

of a material,

Our new

as

an aesthetic appendage, hiding the character-

undyed

often prefer fabrics in natural,

tones.

synthetic fibres, derived from such different sources as

seaweed or lime have multiplied many times the number of our traditionally used fibres. Our materials therefore, even when woven in the simplest techniques, are widely varied in quality, and the number of variations are still increased through the effects of the new coal, casein, soybeans,

finishes.

Yards and yards of plain and useful material, therefore, do not

bore

Rather they give us a unique

us.

earlier civilization,

such

as

satisfaction.

To

member of an

a

our Peruvian, these materials would be lacking

would make them meaningful to him or beautiful. Though we have succeeded in achieving a great variety of fabrics without much variation of weaving technique, the vast field of weaving in those qualities that

itself is

open today

At

for experimentation.

present, our industry has

laboratories for such work. (Today, 1959, the situation test

tube and the slide rule have, so

no

The

changing.)

is

taken good care of our progress.

far,

Nevertheless, the art of building a fabric out of threads

is still

a

primary

concern to some weavers, and thus experimenting has continued. Though not

in general

admitted to the officialdom of industrial production,

some hand-weavers have been as

an integral part of

At are bringing

textile

to

weaving

itself

work.

their looms, free

back the

draw attention

trying to

from the

dictates

qualities that result

of a blueprint, these weavers

from an immediate

relation

of the working material and the work process. Their fresh and discerning attempts to use surface qualities of weaves are resulting in a

of

textile design. It

is

largely

due

work

to their

becoming an element of interest. Texture

effects

new

school

that textures are again

belong to the very structure

of the material and are not superimposed decorative patterns, which at present

become

as

have

lost

much

our

love. Surface

treatment of weaving, however, can

an ornamental addition as any pattern by an overuse

of the qualities that are organically part of the fabric structure.

Though that the industry all

it is is

through the stimulating influence of hand-weaving

becoming aware of some new

hand-weaving today has contributed

work

that leads

to

it.

textile possibilities,

To have

away from the general trend of a period has

certain perplexities.

There

is

a

danger of isolationism

.

.

.

to

overcome

hand-weavers

withdrawing from contemporary problems and burying themselves weaving recipe books of the sent,

96

which due

past; there

is

a

not

positive results, a

in

resentment of an industrial pre-

to a superior technique of manufacture, by-passes

them;


there

is

romantic ovcrestimation of handwork

a

work and vital

beHet in

a

artificial

Any

or as a therapeutic means.

under discussion

here. C]rafts

of art and usefulness (once level of art

and not quite

and the

industr)'

no longer of

craft

is

that of a

backwoods subsidy

potentially arc,

a natural

ment and

in

art

.

.

.

such not are hybrids

An example

trash.

is

the

an unauthorized manner,

its

craft

of weaving

new developwe can look forward

contribution to the

beginning to draw attention to

is

as

union), not quite reaching the

of a feud, they should have a family reunion. Since the

making,

and

become problematic when they

new form of the old crafts, and both should remember their genealogical relation. Instead

industry crafts

beyond

that of clearly defined usefulness.

our present day ash tray

Modern

is

is

importance. Crafts have a place today

is

machine

in contrast to

preservation of a market that

itself,

when it will be accepted as a vital part of the industrial process. The influence that hand-weaving has had thus far has been mainlv treatment of the appearance, the epidermis, of fabrics. The engi-

to the time

in the

neering work of fabric construction, which affects the fundamental characteristics of a material, has barely

been considered.

It

is

probably

work in this direction. For just as silk, can become stiff in the form of taffeta, through

again the task of hand-weavers to soft material

by nature,

a certain thread construction,

and

linen, a comparatively stiff material, can

be made soft in another, so an endless number of constructional

produce new

new

fabrics.

The

increasing

number of new

fibres

qualities creates a special challenge to try the effects

them. Just

as

a

effects

can

incorporating

of construction on

chemical treatment has produced fluorescence, so structural

treatment can produce, for example, sound-absorption.

Our

ancient

Peruvian colleague might lose his puzzled expression, seeing us thus

adventures with threads, adventures that

we

set for

suspect had been his passion.

Industry should take time off for these experiments in textile

construction and, as the easiest practicable solution, incorporate hand-

weavers as laboratory workers in

its

scheme. By including the weaver's

imaginative and constructive inventiveness, as well as his land-loom

with

its

wide operational scope, progress

in textile

work may grow from

progress in part to a really balanced progress.

This essay originally appeared

was reprinted Albers:

On

in

in

"Constructing Textiles" Design 47:8 (April

Alvin Lustig, ed. Visual Communication

(New

4,

1946) and

York, 1945) and in

Anni

Designing (\^es\cy3r\ I'niversiiy Press: Middlelown, C'onnccticiit, 19^1), pp. 12-16.

97


133-

Drawing for a Rug

II,

1959.

Ink and pencil on paper, 13. 1

The

X 43.6 cm (5 X 17 Xf, inches). Josef and Anni Albers '/<.

Foundation, Bethany

AA DR

013.

134. Drawing for a Rug II, Gouache on paper, 13. 1 X 43.6 cm (sXi, X i-jYu,

The

inches).

AA DR

135. Drawitig for a Rug II, Gouache on paper, 13. 1 X 43.6 cm (5X<, X 17X1,

The

Josef and Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany

98

1959.

015.

1959.

inches).

Josef and Anni Albers

Foundation, Bethany

AA DR

016.


136.

Study for Ctvuiiio ReiiL

Gouache on blueprint paper, 29.7 X 27.6 cm (11%. X loX inches). The Josef and Anni Albers ca. 1967.

Foundation, Bethany

AA DR

021.

99


137-

Study for A, 1968.

Gouache on graph paper, 27.9 X 26 cm (11 X ioYm, inches). The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany

100

AA DR

024.


,.m., y-h

\j:a&,

tK rk

"..<i^.,

:;k,

^^

â&#x20AC;˘^'

^

-

PT

1 .1.

vZS

^

w^

'

3^.

.i^-. J^.. ^-(^

V4-W

"

....-^'

-i^r

y

*

.J

^^

i

1"

'^''

'-i-

'

:-^-:'-^'^.'/^

W^

'-s^-

'^ ~* 7' "'Sf*'*^^^

.

r

1:T

^^^

-Ww"

.--.^^^T'

"-

.j^:^ :;;>gp-^!-:: -^-^ V~^'

-^-T^r^

IIILI., 138.

Study for B, 1968.

Gouache on graph paper, 31 X 23.8 cm (12 /i. X gX inches). The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bcthanv

AA DR

025.1

lOI

-^.^^^

-4


r^r A 2 2 ^ ^ ^ j^ A ^ ^ \. y '^ _ A^ A\ A r A A _

/

139.

DR XV B,

38.4

X

The

Josef and

58.9

Bethany

OR

cm

1974. Ink (15 X X

on

paper,

22 X inches).

Anni Albers Foundation,

AA DR

053.

'y-TV

140.

38.4

DRXIV, i^j^. Ink on paper, 58.9 cm (15)4 X ^^yÂť inches).

X

The Josef and Anni Bethany

102

AA DR

Albers Foundation,

051.


141.

Study for Triangulated Intaglio

1976. 31.

1

The

X

Gouache on 28.4

Josef

Bethany

cm

(12

V,

paper, yâ&#x20AC;&#x17E;.

X

II

M'6

inches).

and Anni Albers Foundation,

AA DR

070.

103


142.

Line Iin'olvcmoit lU 1964.

Lithograph, 50.5 x 37.5cm {\C)V*

X 14%,

inches).

The Josef and Anni Bethany

104

AA PR

Albers Foundation,

005/II.


I 143.

Line Involvement

Lithograph, 37.5 (i4'M'6

The

X

x

UL 1964. cm

50.5

19/8 inches).

Josef and Anni Alhcrs Foundation,

Bethany

AA PR

005/III.

105


144- Line Involvement IV, 1964.

Lithograph, 50.5 (19

Xx

14

'/t

x

37.5

The Josef and Anni Bethany

106

cm

inches).

AA PR

Albers Foundation,

005/IV.


145- I-ine

Involvement

K

Lithograph, 37.5 x 50.5 (14

')4

The

X 19X

1964.

cm

inches).

Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,

Bethany

AA PR

005/V.

107


146. Li)H' hivolvemeyit VI, 1964.

Lithograph, 50.5 X 37.5 (19 7s

X 14%

The Josef and Anni Bethany

108

cm

inches).

AA PR

Albers Foundation,

oos/VI.


147- Line Involvement VII, 1964.

Lithograph, 50.5 (19

/ÂŤ

The

X

14

'X*.

X

37.5

cm

inches).

Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,

Bethany

AA PR

005/VlI.

109


148. Yellow

X

Meander. Screenprint,

cm

(28 X 24 inches). The Josef and Anni AJbers Foundation, 71. 1

61

Bethany

no

AA PR

016.


149-

PO

72.9

X

II,

55.9

1973. Screenprint

cm

(28

%X

The Josef and Anni Bethany

AA PR

and photo-offset,

22 inches).

Albers Foundation,

034.

Ill


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^^HiHiii 150.

Anni Albers and Alex Reed,

Neck

piece, ca. 1940.

Aluminum

strainer,

paper

clips,

and chain; pendant: 10.8

X

8

cm

(4

Collection of

112

/{

X

3

X

Donna

inches).

Schneier.


Anni Albers and Alex Rccd, Neck piece, ca. 1940. 151.

Washers and grosgrain ribbon. 109.2

cm

(43 inches) long.

Collection of Mrs. Barbara Drcier.

113


152. Anni Albers and Alex Reed, Neck piece, 1988 reconstruction

of a

ca.

1940 original.

Corks, bobby pins, and thread,

cm

78.7

(31

inches) long.

Collection of

153.

Mary

Emma

Anni Albers and Alex Reed,

Neck

piece, ca. 1940.

Brass

grommets and cotton

83.8

Harris.

cm

cord,

(33 inches) long.

Collection of Mrs. Barbara Dreier.

154.

Anni Albers and Alex Reed,

Neck

piece, ca. 1940.

Brass

grommets and chamois,

104. 1

cm

(41 inches) long.

Collection of Mrs. Barbara Dreier.

114


155-

Anni Albcrs and Alex Reed,

Neck of a

piece, 1988 reconstruction

ca.

1940 original.

Eye hooks, pearl beads, and thread, 83.8

cm

(33 inches) long.

Collection of

Mary

Emma

Harris.

"5


rjjw

156.

Free-hanging

room

divider,

ca. 1948. Walnut lath, dowels, and

waxed-cotton harnessmaker's thread, 326.4 X 108 cm (128 X X 42X inches). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

New York,

â&#x20AC;˘e^--

Gift of Anni Albers

I970.75-78-

157.

Free-hanging room divider,

ca. 1949. Jute,

X 86.4 cm (57 X 34 inches). of Modern Art, Museum The 144.8

New York, 411.60.

116

Gift of the designer


I'^H.

Free-hanging room divider,

1949. Cellophane

and cord,

cm (94 X 32% inches) The Museum of Modern Art, 238.7

X

New

York, Gift of the designer

409.60.

"7

82.5


Anni

Kelly Feeney

By

all

1950s,

Albers: Devotion to Material

accounts,

when

Anni Albers had never

synagogue before the mid-

visited a

the ark panels she designed for

Temple Emanu-El

in Dallas

160-61) were installed. Born to a family of assimilated Berlin Jews,

(figs.

Albers was baptized and confirmed in the Protestant church. This complex religious identity

was

a changeable feature of Albers's personality.

she was explicit about her background, particularly

if

Sometimes

she anticipated

an affront. But on occasions she was quick to remind others that she was not Jewish (except,

as she

put

it,

Cohen

asked Albers to weave a matzoh

cover for her family's Passover seder. "You

know

I'm not Jewish," Albers

proceeded to carry out the assignment.

replied, yet

when

"in the Hitler sense"), as in 1959,

the graphic designer Elaine Lustig

One wonders

if

Albers sensed any irony in the Dallas commission, or in those she later received for other synagogue decorations

and

for a

Holocaust memorial."

In 1922 Albers left behind the upholstered comfort of her family's

apartment

in Berlin to attend the

closing of the Bauhaus, she

of Germany to teach

at

Bauhaus. Eleven years

and her husband,

another experimental school. Black Mountain

College, in the United States.

During

this

herself to her art, as well as to teaching (for

example, the 1939 text "Art

tumultuous time Albers devoted

and writing about

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;A Constant")

commitment. Clearly Modernism was for

In the mid-1950s the building

art.

Her

essays

often prescribe a devotional

Albers's religion,

overshadowed the complex relationship she had

it

the

later, after

Josef, left the uncertainties

and her fervor

to Judaism.

committee of Temple Emanu-El

hired the sculptor Gyorgy Kepes to oversee the interior decoration

of its new synagogue, which had been designed by Howard Meyer and

Max and

Sandfield. Kepes,

stained-glass

who

designed the sanctuary's pendant light fixtures

windows himself

and

selected Albers for the design

fabrication of the ark covering.

Albers collaborated with Kepes on a fabric pattern that echoed

not only his blue, green, and amber geometric

window

sparkling adobe-brick pattern of the sanctuary's

main

design, but the

wall as well.

Although

Kepes had originally envisioned conventional ark curtains that could be drawn back to reveal the Torahs, Albers prevailed upon him to

mount

the material

Kepes accepted, fabric

had

on

sliding

wooden

typifies Albers's genius:

to be spun,

panels. Ihis solution,

let

her

which

fewer yards of the expensive custom

woven, and dyed, and, with the money saved,

she was able also to design and produce a silvery material to line the back

of the tabernacle.

The in a diverse

118

eight twenty-foot-high ark panels appear at

first

to be covered

mosaic of gold, green, and blue Lurex blocks. Albers,

who


159-

Study for Temple Emanu-El ark panels,

1957. Collage

of colored paper,

foil, textile

sample, and typewritten labels on paper,

cm

43.1

X

The

Josef and

36.2

Bethany

(17

X

14

/:

inches).

Anni Albers Foundation,

AA DR

095.

119


— was

fluent in the language of geometry, achieved this effect

an underlying modular structure

in her fabric design;

panel bears the same pattern, the fabric the repeat the spare

on the center

or,

mounted

at different points in

down. This way,

panels, simply turned upside

of fabric that Albers supplied to the temple could be used

roll

any one of the eight panels

to replace

is

by setting out

even though each

damage were ever to occur. economy transformed

if

Alberss rigorous aesthetic and practical

the synagogue's ark covering into a splendid architectural element.

The

panels are such a focal point in the sanctuary that the temple's building

committee Kepes

objected to them, even though they had approved

initially

the design several

months

November

In

earlier.

1956 the committee asked

Albers could produce a fabric pattern with "softened transitions"

if

had

to replace the fabric she

made

just

in time for the synagogue's

January dedication." Albers informed Kepes that

would be impossible

it

to

meet that deadline, so the committee was forced

as

they were. But no one complained after the February 1957 issue of

magazine came out, with the

Life

to accept the panels

glowing sanctuary reproduced

vast,

in

glorious color.'

Four years

Rhode work

Modern

that

had made studio

Congregation B'nai

is

building by Samuel Glaser. Albers responded with

entirely different

weaving

in Dallas,

(fig.

164).

of Woonsocket,

Israel

an ark covering for their new temple,

Island, invited Albers to create

a baroque a

later the

As

from the

six

sleek,

machine-woven piece she

on

textured tapestries

in Dallas, she

mounted

loom

a

the textiles

in her

on wooden panels

designed to slide apart during services. Measured amounts of gold Lurex in the tapestries lend luster to the other,

—and make

and

jute

entirely of gold.

—which

weft

On

much

quieter, materials

the textiles appear from a distance to be closer inspection the black

Albers referred to

as

"thread hieroglyphs"

of the general luminosity.^ The B'nai temple's sanctuary with a

and white

Israel panels,

shimmering radiance,

—cotton

woven

lines

of floating

—emerge out

which dominate the

are

somewhat

calligraphic,

symbolic of the sacred scriptures they protect and adorn. In an unpublished statement about this commission, Albers wrote

which she described

that an earlier weaving,

as "linear in design,

vaguely

suggesting written ciphers," was her point of departure.' (The earlier is

presumably ^/rtc^-W/^/r^-G'o/^/

relates to

[1950,

fig.

42].)

work

This reference to "ciphers"

an ongoing theme in Albers's work: the implicit relationship

between language and weaving. Albers's preoccupation with

this idea

grew

out of a lifelong admiration for the weavings produced in pre-Conquest Peru, a culture that

left

behind extraordinary

textiles

but no written

language. Albers believed that the "expressive directness" of the

Andean

weavers was possible precisely because they did not communicate through writing."

But Albers was

that language can take.

also interested in the variety

Among

Anni Albers Foundation)

are

of visual forms

her papers (now held at the Josef and

magazine clippings from the 1960s of various

scripts,

including Japanese calligraphy, musical notation, cuneiform, and

Arabic,

among

others.

She enjoyed the graphic

qualities

of these written

languages and the mystery of their abstraction. In the cipherlike design of the interest in the written

of Judaism

the study of

Albers's

the biblical injunction against iconography in favor of

Hebrew

texts.

Six Prayers, for the Jewish

120

Woonsocket commission,

form intersected compellingly with a basic tenet

The same

Museum

is

in

true of her subsequent commission.

New

York

(fig.

60).

The Jewish


i6o and

Temple

161.

Ark panels,

l-.inanu-lX Dallas, 1956

(open and closed).

IZI


Museum had begun

in

1964 to acquire

art

memorializing the Jews

died in the Holocaust, after the philanthropist Vera List (the

Samuel Glaser) had established

Sam

a special

fund

of

for this purpose. In 1965

Hunter, the director-elect of the museum, wrote to Albers, inviting

commemorative

her to execute a

tapestry.

He

and that the museum "placed no

restrictions

character of the commissioned memorial, or

Albers worked for several

format by weaving

months on

commissions

stated that

were not being granted on the basis of religious

its

who

sister

faith or ethnic origin,

of any kind on the

upon

its

artistic

authorship.""

the piece, gradually developing

the spring of 1966, after

five full-scale studies." In

she had submitted the finished tapestries and had received enthusiastic

approval from the director. Hunter then hesitated to accept them. At the last

minute he and

had noticed

List

similarities

between the work and

her ark covering in Woonsocket. Hunter wrote to her, expressing his reservations: "It a

memorial

would

was our hope, of course, for the six million,

my

detract in

to

opinion from the uniqueness of

Albers responded to Hunter three days

what must have been

have something quite unique

and the existence of a work so

a

later.'"

this

keen sense of disappointment, lor by then she

clearly

of enormous importance to

her.

the comparison of Six Prayers to the earlier synagogue

Woonsocket she had

set

them

and

career,

this

She welcomed

work but pointed

out significant differences. In both works she had used in

commission."'

In her letter she moderated

was sixty-seven years old and near the end of her weaving

commission was

as

similar

six panels;

but

close together to read as a unified whole,

while in Six Prayers she had set them apart from one another, like stelae representing the six million dead. She also pointed out that the synagogue

panels were a ceremonial, festive gold, in contrast to the

monochromatic

gray and silver of Six Prayers. She emphasized technical differences as well: for the ark panels,

had used

a

worked on over for

which she had woven

warp of loosely a

set cotton,

in a

matter of weeks, she

while for Six Prayers, which she

period of several months, she had used a durable linen

both the closer-set warp and In the end, the

for

most of the weft.

museum overcame

its

reluctance

and accepted

Six Prayers. In a press release announcing the work's inaugural presentation,

Albers wrote that the piece was conceived to be intimate rather than

monumental." Conducive effect elicit

to meditation,

of Albers's characteristic poise and

it

has a palpable silence, the

restraint. Yet the panels

prayer; they are a prayer, evoking loss

and sorrow through

not only

their

woven

strands. Like the Peruvian textiles that Albers so admired. Six Prayers

communicates outside any recognizable language. lit

by

silver,

their secrets.

122

Its

"thread-hieroglyphs,"

possess a subtle intensity; tugging at us, they slowly reveal


i62.

Ark

Cotton,

panels, 1962. jute,

and Lurex;

X 213.4 cm X 84 inches) overall. Temple B'nai Israel, six panels,

162.6

(64

Woonsocket, Rhode

Notes

1.

Onl)- the most signiticant ot these

commi.s.si()ns are discussed here.

her commissions tor lemple

Temple B'nai

in Dallas,

Emanu-E!

Israel in

in

Albers also created ark-curtain

material for the Marcel Breuer-designed

Scarsdale

New

Scarsdalc,

York, in 1958, and a set of ark panels

tor the

Congregation Hartzion Agudath

Achim, (The

Reform Temple,

Silver Springs,

latter

is

now

Maryland,

Ancient Writing (1936), Pictographic

Memo

{1958),

Jotting (1959),

Haiku

(1953),

Scroll (1962),

Museum

Woonsocket, and the Jewish

New York,

as

Apart from

in 1967.

of

in the collection

Museum, Jerusalem.) Howard Meyer and Max Sandfield,

(1980). For

Open

sec Virginia

Code

(1962),

Epitaph (1968), and Letter

more on the

between language and

Text:

Letter (1958),

(1961),

Gardner

relationship

AJbers's weavings,

Troy's

"Thread

The Woven Work of Anni

as

Albers"

in this publication. 7.

.Sam Hunter, letter to

June

25, 1965,

Foundation

The

Joset

.-Xnni .Albers,

and .Anni

.-Mbers

archives.

the Israel

8.

2.

collections: Bauhaus-.'\rchiv, Berlin; .Art

memorandum

to the I'emple

Building Committee, Nov.

Temple Emanu-El, 3.

Emanu-El

12,

1956,

Dallas.

"Lotr\' Shrine: Dallas

Dedicates Synagogue,"

Congregation

Life, Feb. 25, 1957,

p. 6z. 4.

museum

and Weatherspoon

Institute ot Chicago;

Gallery, University of

North Carolina,

Greensboro. Another

is

in a private

collection in Pittsburgh.

The

fifth

has not

been located. 9.

Albers used the phrase 'thread-

1 hrcc ot the five studies are in

Sam

March

Hunter,

23, 1966,

letter to .Anni .Albers,

The

Anni Albers

Josef and

hieroglyphs" in a letter to the Jewish

Foundation archives. Hunter had expressed

Museum, March

enthusiasm

26, 1966,

Anni Albers Foundation 5.

Anni

The

Josef and

archives.

Albers, unpublished manuscript,

10.

Foundation archives.

March

6.

Anni Albers, On Weaving (Middlctown,

p. 68.

The

titles

Press, 1965),

of many of AJbers's works

refer explicit^ to written language,

an

earlier letter,

such

dated Feb.

and .Anni

18,

.Albers

Foundation archives.

June 1962, The Josef and Anni Albers

Conn.: Wesleyan University

in

1966, also in the Jo,sef

Anni

Albers, letter to

26, 1966,

Sam

Hunter,

The Josef and Anni Albers

Foundation archives. 11.

Press release.

New

The

York, Jan. 1967,

Jewish

The

Museum,

Josef and Anni

Albers Foundation archives.

123

Island.


'

The

Nicholas Fox Weber

Last Bauhausler

Grasp the simple, embrace the primitive.

Diminish yourself,

— Lao

bridle your passions.

Tzii

I.

When Anni Albers asked me if it would be possible to make fine-art prints at my family's commercial offset shop, she became a little girl eager to embark on

marvelous adventure.

a

septuagenarian

embarked

lit

for the

The

eyes of this generally

up with expectation. As when she had, Bauhaus half a century

earlier,

dour

age twenty-two,

at

she was entering her

favorite realm: that of uncharted territory.

This austere woman, dressed in her inevitable whites and pale beiges, her graying hair sensibly cut, her only

maybe some powder,

makeup

a hint of lipstick

and

sparkled like an eight-year-old in a party dress. Alice,

perhaps: an unbridled enthusiast about to enter the magical kingdom. It

would

had not occurred

minutes from

five

to

me

that

anything to either of the

offer

for insurance

their house,

my

family's printing

artistic AJberses.

Fox

company some forty-

Press,

mostly churned-out booklets and brochures

and manufacturing companies;

it

was known

for high-

quality color-process printing, not for the sort of work that bears an

artist's

on each sheet in the tradition of limited-edition lithographs, etchings, and screenprints. But Anni made her proposal with zeal. This great figure of Modernism who would, by the end of her life, be the last surviving signature

teacher of the Bauhaus

suggested

it

with the same eagerness and openness

with which she entered the vast domain of her

local Sears

Roebuck

(ten

minutes from her house) and embarked on a course of what, with her cadences, she enthusiastically called "tah-reasure hunting."

lilting Berlin

At Sears she would

extol the merits of plastic containers

blouses, declaring that that

"all this

machine processes were

among

a

and polyester

emphasis on handmade was nonsense, '

wonderful thing, and that synthetics were

the marvels of our century. I

told

Anni

a bit

about the technology of photo-offset.

I

gave a

simple description that touched on the process in the most fundamental

way

when,

trying as best a

I

few months

taking a Lord to the other

could to follow Anni's patient and generous lead earlier,

& Taylor box

she had led

me

to understand

weaving by

top and stretching lines of string from one end

and then inserting popsicle

sticks at right angles to the string,

with the sticks placed alternately above and below the taut

fiber, in

order to create a bare-bones loom that demonstrated warp and weft. She

had told

work

124

I

me

then that she was delighted that someone so interested in her

was hoping,

I

had

said, to write a

book about

it

— knew nothing


163.

Anni

Albcrs, Milan, July 1983.

125


about

work

her

technique, as she quite loathed

textile

to be thought of as art

swim

aspects of her personality, but her wish to

me, and since

I

thought Anni's

of pure and great abstract

art

against the tide intrigued

weavings" to have

"pictorial

and wanted

that craft stuff"

"all

did not yet recognize the perverse

first. I

the qualities

all

belong next to the paintings of her

to

Bauhaus confreres Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky

and since I, too, had most weaving with macrame and needlepoint and was amused and willing to follow her route.

the arrogance to link the like,

I

When we photo-offset, utilize the

began to discuss the possibility of her working with

Anni proved

medium

to

quick study. She decided that she would

to be a

make

a print

of two horizontal rectangular forms

stacked one on top of the other. Each of the rectangles

keeping with the

a triangulated pattern, in

would contain

recent geometric experi-

artist's

full of diversion and ins and outs, but deliberately symmetry or repetition. At the Bauhaus, Anni had been deeply moved by Wilhelm Worringer's pivotal book Abstraction and Empathy; she embraced Worringer's idea of abstraction providing the

mentations, a design lacking in internal

opportunity to create "visual resting places" removed from the often painful realities

and

of the natural world. She was interested in

in history

life itself

keep the viewer engaged, the new creation, to

locale or

moment

or to the maker's personal experience. This pure realm of art

could provide some of the harmony that

had

was timeless

art that

known

universal rather than art with specific links to a

eschew easy resolution;

like Josef,

like all

own

artist's

of Anni's compositions,

Anni imbued

certain tension, a perpetual in/out motion, an

and ground. The

sometimes lacked. To abstraction with a

ongoing play between image

persona was to fade

in deference to the

sacred realm of art and the comforts as well as the realities of the technical.

Anni had no wish

to reveal private

fluctuations of her

own mind and

on

the purely aesthetic

for

many

that

Lao

and

emotions or the sometimes troubling heart; she preferred, instead, to focus

Tzii's

It is

words were so beloved by Anni, who kept

philosophy in perpetual reach

a

just as she

had

no wonder

volume of his

at her bedside.

Photo-offset, she determined,

own

of printmaking,

practical issues

years reveled in the construction of textiles.

would enable her to reproduce her and simultaneously to obtain

deliberately irregular pencil strokes,

the crystalline edges

and

reversals allowed

by machine technology. The

photographic reproduction of her gray markings had never been possible

mediums with which

in the print

etching,

and screenprinting.

musical,

communication of the

and other ancient forms

if

meaning of its intonations

the precise

to the gray, a red pattern that

a bright plastic sheet

stripping department from an original sketch

opaquely on the top half of

and

lithography,

sort that fascinated her in hieroglyphics

idea of a voice being heard even

to be reversed

of writing. She liked nonspecific language, the

was indecipherable. In contrast hand-cut on a rubylith

she had previously worked

enabled her to suggest mysterious, and

It

on the lower

of two

layers

by Anni was

had been in the

to be printed

this

two-section print, while the pattern was

half.

What was

red above was gray below,

vice versa, another result of the photo-mechanical process.

The

solids

above were pencil strokes below; the pencil above unmodulated red below.

The

irregularity of her pencil strokes

against the crisp purity of that,

with a

flick

of the

this elusive fuzziness

machined forms appealed to her. So did the idea could make what was negative in one

wrist, she

rectangle positive in the other. She was grateful to the technology for having

opened new party.

126

Now

visual possibilities

as

if it,

not she, was the responsible

she could achieve the sort of contrast and unpredictability, the


^^ 164.

Fox

I,

1973. Photo-offset,

X 34 cm (14?^ X 13 inches). The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 38

'/(,

Bethany.

127


MX

165.

Fox

II,

1973. Photo-offset,

X 34 cm (14 K X 13 /(, inches). The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 38

Bethany.

128


niixtuiv o{

tlic

personal and

impersonal, the coincidence ot order and

ilic

spontaneity, and hence the playfulness and elements ot surprise intrinsic to

— while being — when A and work — she would work

her

part ot the

year or so later

munist

letting

you know

me,

ot the evidence remains.) The

would shorten her

(she

she was about ten aiul

first still

with tutors, was a Miss \

world

in the

work. (Unfortunately,

teacher ot Annelisc FIcischmann

she took josets as her

being etliicated

— Anni lo\ed

when

last),

small groiic) ot children

ni a

name for whom she autumn leaves."' Then,

the

painted "some good naturalistic watercolors ot

when

life

Com-

had started out with very

in her

first art

name when

iolet

about Anni's

detail

tone ot a rebel

had grown up with finger bowls

abstractionists, she

traditional renditions ot the natural

none

some

in

in the confessional

that she

many

house, that, like so

began to write

I

tell

modern world.

little

she was fourteen and had enrolled in the Kceiim, her parents hired

a private art teacher, loni Mayer,

who came once

a

week

house

to the

with a nude model tor Anni to draw. In retrospect, the idea ot the figure

drawing she had done at the

the

time

way

look

it

made

as a

her

young woman made

"feel

that the progressive

sense to Anni, but

and liberated "Tonuschka" gave her

beyond bourgeois

at the worici

little

very professional," and she was excited by "a first

Berlin." At age fitteen, in 1914,

Anni

made as her entry to a lyceum competition tor posters to give to World War orphans "a picture ot short-haireti little girls sitting behind each I

other in a row. Each wore a skirt about three inches short ot her knees and

was knitting, with a

a ball

of wool

in tront ot her."

premonition of her future involvement with

with that image she was combining her role ot bete noir? She got skirts

too brief

A

word

that the posters

Could Anni have had Did she realize that

threaci?

with that ot

star pupil

were unacceptably immodest, the

poster she considered distinctly inferior

won

first prize,

while hers was awarded only an honorable mention. Her frustration

—Anni always seemed —was with her over

over this

to take a certain pleasure in

wronged

still

With her next and breaking the

rules.

Martin Brandenburg,

art teacher, she

telt

she

made

having been

later.

continued both working figuratively

Now a tull-time art student with the Postimpressionist whom she liked and trom whose strict discipline

she benefited even

she

half a century

it

she questioned the specifics ot his training,

representational paintings about halt

The problems

lite-size.

began when, "ha\ing seen a beautiful Lucas Cranach Eve painted against a

black background"

—one must imagine

the sonorous, soft voice and

deliberate speaking manner, the subtle but distinct emphasis "beautiful,"

its first

warmly

syllable stretched

—she began,

of Brandenburg's recommended technique, to put black

Brandenburg

said that if she did not

could not return to his

classes.

reconciliation, the rebellious student dictates, but the

much

I

work she produced

this use

in tears.

vowing

to

atter that

in her paintings.

of black she

Her mother arranged

comply with the

time makes clear

a

teacher's

how

she ultimately delighted in that black.

When Anni red,

abandon

Anni was

on the word

in violation

first

gave

me

made in solid handwork exactlv. Mv outlines she would want the same

the sketch for the pattern to be

instructed the stripper to simulate her

erroneous assumption was that

in the

sort ot personal ettect that the gray pencil strokes had.

It

took the stripper

days to cut a rubylith that perfectly resembled her drawing

—only

to

have Anni respond by .saying that she hated the handmade appearance.

She meant her drawinti

onl\- as a tiiiide to the

design and desired exact.

129


and sharply pointed

crisp lines

The

do was cut one

to

Once

with the points

reverse of the top,

the preparatory stages were complete

all

my

thrilling intimacy, to a

devotion to

had ever thought possible

wanted

make

to

I

Fox

a trip to

this process

more honest and intense Anni said that she

She needed, she

Press.

felt,

to

watch the

actual printing in order to determine the intensity of the gray as

and

off the press

make

to

sure that the

opaque red trapped

it

rolled

it

exactly,

containing the pencil without any unwelcome white space around

We

he

all

regular visits to the Alberses

had exposed me, with than

triangles

piece.

had taken many months, during which art

just lightly touching.

from which he cut the

bottom unit was simply the

precisely; since the

had

triangles

stripper then developed a grid

it.

would pick her up one morning at the modest, shingled, raised ranch house where she and Josef lived on a pleasant suburban street in the town of Orange, fifteen minutes from the center of New Haven. Although she still drove short distances on her own, it was better for

agreed that

me

I

to take her

on the hour-long journey

was on the north side of Hartford, and return her In those days

I

Fox

to

at the

MG roadster, which

drove an

Press,

which

end of the

day.

thought would

I

be impossible for Anni to get into. She walked awkwardly, often using a

and her

cane,

what her

and

legs

feet

seemed

slightly

precise disability was, but she

had been an incorrect rumor

at

contracted rickets during World

Josef danced

War

referred to having

all

broken her hip problem. like

(I

night, a

and

few years

would

at

i66. Josef Albers at 8

New

North Forest

Haven, Connecticut,

Circle,

ca. 1968.

—and

there

she wore large custom-made

accommodate

a structural

remained seated

problem.

Bauhaus

at

parties while

but she never identified the actual

sister,

Lotte,

them

to

of which their leg muscles

feet, as a result

children might be similarly afflicted it

from her brother, Hans Farman, that Anni,

could not fully develop. Anni's

that

I

her mother, suffered from a genetic syndrome that caused

have an extreme arch in both

know

did not yet

another point had mentioned that she had

earlier,

later learn

I

terribly thin calves

Black Mountain College that she had

shoes that were clearly designed to

Anni had once

malformed.

had

and Hans both

feared that their

— they were not— and Hans presumed

was one of the reasons that Anni and Josef had never had children

of their own. Indeed, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, the hereditary progressive nerve disorder from

which Anni

suffered,

would probably have

caused any female children she had to have the same sort of clawed

feet,

nerve deterioration, and wasting of leg muscles as Anni had.' Other people,

however, said that the reason was that the Alberses' work was their children,

and

that their involvement with their art

for family matters.)

So

for the sake

left:

of Anni's comfort

I

no time or energy drove

my

mother's

Rover sedan, which so fascinated Josef that he came outside to the drive-

way

to study

it.

Josef paced back and forth analyzing the English

he

said, to their

Mercedes,

in that, unlike

of these models wasted trunk space.

American

car. It

was

similar,

designs, neither

The importance

of this relationship

of form and function was never minimized. The Alberses had already told

me on many

portable

Sony

Clean and

occasions that they preferred their Polaroid camera and

television to the paintings

effective design

of the Abstract Expressionists.

with a purpose ranked

far

higher than art

focused on the revelation of one's private self

Anni evinced the same pleasure embarking on our outing had over our collaboration from the eagerness of a

And

130

I

young man

was content beyontl

as she

the start. Clearly she liked the attention,

to cater to her

belief; after years

whims and soak up of studying

her views.

art history, in


both Anni and

josct

had ciKounicicd,

1

people ulio

as nc\(.T bftoic,

j;cn-

uincK' h\cd and breathed art as the essence of their h\es. lor the Alberses art

was the central

— not on

issue

of American education and

supreme

and

opposed

line as

more

was

in

Ihe

visual

to Duccio's,

most of Americas famous two

accessible of the

of

artists

she was as selective as in

— but Anni was

them, eager to cross the

all

the

from discussing

line

was entirely

friends. In this arena

of her other choices, but once one had made

sanctum, there was

to the inner

it

Giotto's

architecture, about

work and sense of self; Anni needed

his

a remarkable

— about

topics to establishing an intimate personal connection, josef

content with

institutions

world was

had established

I

German Rococo

about

most

in their marriage.

months Anni and

often had wonderful conversations

I

the tiaudulence oi

it

at large.

of them individually, and

for each

In the preceding

rapport. Josef

the peripher)' as

our culture

in

much

pleasure in being there, even

if

one had to remain somewhat on guard and on good behavior. Arrogant,

woman,

imperious, demanding, and snobby, this highly intelligent

grand duchess of Modern

art,

could be

she could be dismissive.

so, as

who

the few

and savored

recognized the

I

it

was Josef who

in 1971.

was then

I

My

among

of the position

latched onto the significance of

iiiitialK'

What

from the world of printing.

them laden with

at Yale.

rarit\'

as such.

it

in m\'

ordinary and bourgeois and businesslike for people to

this

and charming, genuinely

was, of course, Battering to be

It

escaped her opprobrium:

In fact,

my coming

as gracious

friend

both Annis and

Ihe occasion was our very

rare potential.

a twenty-three-year-old

Ruth Agoos

graduate student

first

who had

was

meeting,

in art history

— who with her husband. Herb,

work, and

Josef's

mind seemed too

like the Alberses

collected

been, to the cool and distant

extent to which the Alberses jointly permitted personal relationships to

develop, a friend of theirs for over a decade her in calling on them. At that point

reputation but

by her

I

knew

had seen I

about

little

his wife's

had, a year

I

anticipated meeting.

know what to expect from the great who had now made such a mark on American

earlier,

been the

Museum

Metropolitan

of Art

in

New

York

painter art

and

Josef

major retrospec-

living artist ever to have a

first

accompany work and

other than the pieces

was Josef whom

It

to

Josef's

did not quite

color theorist

tive at the

very

at the Agooses'.

— had asked me

was familiar with

I

— but

I

was properly

donned my one clean pair of corduroys, a herringbone jacket, and a tie would later discover how right I was in having a foreboding that such details counted in a major way nervous and intimidated

in

advance.

I

where

was going

I

—and did my utmost

when had to get underneath the By the time Ruth and pulled up I

I

Drive, 1

I

was past being Happed

MG

I

to

to

keep the grease off

bang the

at the Alberses' at least

fuel

pump

—of

the house, with

its

I

had expected

But the interior

more

more than

head

his build

its

mind,

at least

some-

from I.evittown.

satellite

the half-fJight of stairs and, in an

met the

Alberses, their presence

the impression of

was almost

who was

and

my

and minimal and spare than anything one would

space completely. Josef was stocky, of

while Anni,

by Walter Gropius, or

chrome, not a

moment we went up

austere

ever find in I.evittown,

presence,

in

— but

in fact,

shingles the color of Band-Aids

to arrive at a pavilion

a rock.

house, at 808 Birchwood

strident concrete foundation completely devoid of planting. In

thing sleek and white and edged

pants

with

the car had finally started

could not help being astonished by the blatant ordinariness

the ugliness

my

tall

two

medium

like Picasso's,

for a

it

.separate beings

height,

was

a

filled

and had

mutual the

a large

but without the musculature

woman, was

thin as a

rail.

But whatever

131


"

were truly big people; they animated the world around

their builds, they

them. The nearly empty house, with

and complete absence of personal

few pieces of lean furniture

its

objects,

walls practically blank save

its

by Josef and work by two of his students (nothing

for four paintings

by Anni was

"

was

in sight),

minimal Modern

like a

by

stage set occupied

characters of Shakespearean dimensions.

The

redness of Josef's skin seemed accentuated by the snow-

whiteness of his smooth, straight

would have remarked on tell

me

hair, precisely the sort

of color effect he

Anni, although she would

in his teaching.

was so dark-skinned that she had been able

that she

of sun without any problem during their

Mexico

visits to

later

to take lots

in the era before

sunscreens were readily available while the fairer Josef had had to protect

made

himself assiduously,

a paler impression

like a figure in a

white movie slightly out of focus and infused with that she

had something about her

comic book fame, but

that

was

if this

less

light.

me

reminded

I

black-and-

regret to say

of Olive Oyl of Popeye

than flattering to her looks, the Olive

Oyl-like mix of awkwardness and amiability, the apparent receptiveness

and eager gaze

me

at

newcomer, won

as a

"What do you

me

do, boy^'' Josef asked

seconds after Ruth had introduced us and

over.

me

and control with which the rugged octogenarian had shaken study art history at Yale,

"I

to

some lower

answered

sir," I

only

in a strident voice

had been struck by the strength

I

my

hand.

reduced, as

was,

I

echelon: a student before a senior professor, an apprentice

before a master, a private before a general.

"Do you

like

it,

boyV This was not someone who believed

in

pussyfooting.

had no idea what

I I

fellowship grant; in an instant. cost,

and

if

But

mean,

.

"Why

not,

"Well,

sir, I

.

.

really

.

.

my

find that I'm losing

or

how

semester

it

for that

for the past three

I

weeks

like,

I

think so

much about

When

all

I

tried to talk to the

me

New

I'orcst Circle,

he put

his

I

like, boy,''

Josef declared,

arm around me and patted my

as,

art

anymore.

with what

my

to

I

deduced was

complete surprise, bastards

Haven, Connecticut, 1968,

photographed by Henri Carrier-Bresson.

in art history don't I

you

like?"

answered, and

we bandied about

professors in the department.

the

names of a few of the

Anni now chimed

in.

They had

the usual

disdain that practicing artists hold for art historians. She referred to

one well-known professor used the American idiom

as

"And what does your puzzled

by

132

my

me

slightly.

I

—she grinned

being

"full

of hot

parents' professions

like a little kid as

— and

it

she

air."

father do?" Josef then asked.

had not expected

it

I

The

question

was past defining myself

was only months

a

if quizzical smile.

"Which of those

back.

Now

the facts they're looking

of the

can't feel that inexplicable thrill

I

noticed that Anni was looking at

"This North

been

about the colors and forms,

degree of fascination, and with what seemed an approving 167. Josef All)^.r^ a( X

I've

fixtures in nineteenth-century

was made, he said that that wasn't the subject of the course.

find

I

art.

been taking a course called 'Seurat and the

I've

what the painting looked

go to museums

I

I.

passion for looking at

France to understand the details of Le Chahut.

when

my

boyV

basement studying gas-lighting

teacher about

of

packing

don't.

.

Iconography of Entertainment,' and in a library

me

have always been one to declare the truth at whatever

I

sir, I

this past

as part

thought he might have the power to send

I

he wouldn't mince words, neither would

"No,

I

with the university was, and

his relationship

was greatly dependent on the monthly stipends awarded

later that

I

realized


to

what extent

emphasized

Josef always

Albers had been

and plumbing;

a

Josef

who

occupation. I.orenz

his hither's

also did carpentry, electrical

work,

had the deepest admiration h)r the practical

skills,

hoiisepainter

on technical proficiency and knowledge

the emphasis

he had learned

of materials,

come from Adam and my who pointed to

as a child. "I

he would declare resolutely to scholars

whom

Johan Thorn-Prikker (with

That's all,"

father.

the glass artist

had apprenticed before attending

Josef

the Bauhaus) or to \'incent van Cjogh, or, less accurately, to the

and

Expressionists as a source for his early style

my

Besides,

mother was

Alberses might be interested that that the whiff of oil paint

one

as the

a painter; I

But

my

answered the question

I

in a

house with

a studio in

room was

detected in their living

I

had known throughout

I

thought perhaps that the

I

grew up

German

sub.secjuent developments.

the

it,

same

childhood.

"Hes

as asked.

a printer.

I

mean,

he owns a printing company."

"Good," Josef something. YouVe not

Anni had been looking of a

girl

that

my

owned

grounds

Her

his

for

was

From

many

round

father for the

What

all right.

own company, and a furniture

in effect

manufacturer

of business

felt isolated, this

graphic arts

me

met her

just first

moment

that

felt at

I

as

if

Hrst with the nervousness, then the relief, first

rime,

and who

did not yet realize was

I

we came from

similar back-

which her word of choice would have been "bourgeois."

combination

nature

art historian."

answer had afforded her a certain comfort, since her father had

father

in its

an

me

at

whose date has

has gotten through the

also

"Then you know something about

replied, smiling. just

link

a line

of work similar

and aesthetic concerns. For Anni, who by

between us had meaning.

that point forward, Josef talked to

— he esteemed graphic design

interesting printers,

to printing

an

as

and had designed

me

art

often about the

form, had worked with

several alphabets

— and gave

various materials pertaining to the subject.

Meanwhile, Anni,

who had had

far less to say in that first

conversation, had obviously begun to hatch a scheme.

been interested

some more something

And

in

my

While Josef had

printing connection theoretically, she recognized

tangible possibilities in the relationship. She might at the different sort of

in the

printing

company my

\oung man who had been brought

might have both

in that

and an admirer. She was,

a friend

I

make

familv owned.

afternoon, she

discovered in time,

deeply in need of both.

What that

1

most remember of the

Anni and Ruth

station

wagon,

anti

1

to procure lunch,

and that

world through the eyes of one of the

and

the ma.ss production a

new dimension, and

I

also

foods takes

encounter was

I

learned that

when you

Kentucky Fried Chicken

like "Josef

see the

proponents of the Bauhaus,

and

I

when

distinction

takes

on

and

ele-

don't like extra kah-rispy,"

more ordinary came to see that day that even the least appealing of fast on a new charm when enunciated in quiet Berlin tempo

"Ken-tucky fah-ried

from

initial

when someone of Anni's

has a magic that such preferences lack

souls.

of that

earliest

efficiency of

that

gance makes a pronouncement it

rest

went out, with Anni driving her Ghevrolet

a spare

"

— and

and lean

uttered by

served on immaculate white Rosenthal china

rolling cart, arranged there

by someone whose

eyes and imerring design sense govern every slight decision.

It

was two years

later that

1

was driving Anni

to her entrance to the printing plant the

to

Fox

Press.

She gave

same very individual magic, the

deliberateness and quirky charm, that she lent to most simple actions.

133


Proportioned

one

like

of Alberto Giacometti's striding figures

with the aid of her plain

stick,

Anni was

of her dark brunette hair and her

stately

she "purposefully avoided an arty look"

who was most

and walking

striking both for the dignity

own

manner. By her

definition,

a bent she shared with Josef

often seen in solid-colored, straight-collared shirts and

khaki or gray wool trousers; the tone

set

by

was of consider-

their clothing

able importance to both the Alberses. For her Fox Press outing, a simply cut, rather severe khaki skirt that

and

a silky white crepe blouse,

knowing her

well,

Anni wore

below the knee,

just

pure-white cable-stitch sweater. Not yet

a

assumed that the sweater was expensive, handmade,

I

— someone of Anni would wear nothing —but having become more acquainted with have come

and imported else

ended

that

Albers's stature

her

closely

to realize that

and from

it

work

For

a discount store.

practical products of ly instructed

I

was probably machine-made, synthetic, and washable I

now know

handmade and

weavers championing the

to look at their

that she always preferred the

mass production to most luxury goods

own

— and

belittling

regular-

machine

shirts.

Anni's plain, mostly inexpensive clothes acquired a rare elegance

on

her, in part

Alexander's

because of the

(When

have been Chanels.

asked

fit

for

whom

and hung; her its

suits

from

cheap merchandise) might

she considered to be the greatest

of the twentieth century, she was inclined to answer "Coco Chanel.")

artist

Along with the whites and a

way they

department store noted

(a

shimmering brown

were of color

as well as

When we had

father

built

tans that day,

Anni had on

Press,

I

lamented

I

told

Anni

that

when my

he had considered buying Standing Lithographer

by David Smith, a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall for a chest.

jacket,

of texture.

walked into the pressroom,

Fox

brown suede

a

and heavy brown suede shoes; the balances

scarf,

this

figure with a steel type case

with the collector's usual woe over the

art

masterpiece almost bought, explaining that the ten thousand dollars

needed

to

buy

had ended up being required

it

had recently sold I

for

for a fire door.

one hundred and seventy thousand

considered too vulgar to mention but of which

Anni was

surprisingly

Without missing

unmoved by what

I

I

(The Smith

dollars, a detail

was keenly aware.)

considered a misfortune.

a beat, she simply pointed to a large Swiss two-color

and declared, "You see that machine? That, that more beautiful than anything David Smith ever touched." Anni positioned herself carefully on a wooden chair next to

press in front of us is

far

the thirty-two-inch single-color press where her print was to be run.

She exuded

a sense of

was mercifully

free

importance and rectitude,

as well as grace,

but

of the self-consciousness of a grande dame. She was,

quite simply, an honest worker trying to do her job as best she could.

There was nothing of an old lady about

her; she

was neither

a "character"

nor a "person of importance," and her age and gender assumed minor roles.

What was

remarkable was her quiet brilliance, and her humility

alongside her complete originality. As the pressman adjusted the press,

she spoke of the

wonder of the machine and of the

to the capabilities

artist's

need to respond

of the equipment.

Anni was curious about the

flexible plate that

was being locked

know more about how it was made. The pressman fetched the platemaker, who suggested that we go into the prep department to see how it was created. Observing the chemical processes onto

and

a roller

fit

and wanted

to

of the halftones, Anni marveled

As she exulted

in

the technology, this

accuracy of mechanization.

woman who

worked alongside Klee and Kandinsky

134

at the

fifty

at the

years earlier,

Bauhaus had

somehow made


this prinrint; pl.iiu in C'oiiiiccticut

and its

What

lite.

complicated

but rather

its

an outgrowth of B.uih.uis thinking

she c\okcd of that great and pioneering art school was not politics

the rivalries that sometimes sullied

t)r

and marriage

crisp thinking

While impressively himible

its

atmosphere,

and technology.

ot creativity

her demeanor, she had a degree

in

of politeness that suggested the true ranks of noblesse. Shaking hands

men

with the

at the plant,

Anni smiled graciousK- and

me

to

that she in

an

simply

their inability to use machines; they should

from

aside, suffered

them

told

admired what they did. "Craft people," Anni complained

look at what they were wearing to understand the value of mechanization. It

was yet another

reiteration of this favorite point.

Watching the used to

first

few prints

roll

off the press, which was usually

Anni was

off brochures by the thousands,

fire

been while the parts were clamped into place and the

was consistent with the passion

for preparation

when

often voiced to me. As a child of ten,

with her collars,

both

sister,

in their

and process

she went to the

When

parties in their Berlin apartment, she loved

fascinated by the return to the

norm

her parents gave costume

moved

in, just as

The end

quite as interesting. But what pleasure there had been

vast area of parks

her familvs formal

on the

had

symphony

she was

after the party; transformation,

the working of components, were her nectar.

were speciallv

This

that she

watching the usual furniture

being taken away and the party props being

when

she had

as

alwavs been that of the orchestra timing

up— more than the actual performance.

her childhood

black velvet dresses with white Irish lace

moment had

her favorite

riveted

rollers inked.

result

and

was never

on the occasion

in

became the (itunewald, the

flat

outskirts of Berlin. Large canvases of landscapes

and guests entering the

installed to create this picnic setting,

verdant paradise were met by a simulated boat, created on a bed frame

on wheels,

that ferried

them

few

a

feet

through the entr\\vay,

as

they

if

were crossing one of the lakes of the Grunewald. Most!)' Anni had negative

memories of her mother; she mainly her mother had arranged

showed some

Oskar Kokoschka a pupil

— he

she fondly

the study of

when

though

the adolescent Anni

and had accompanied her

Dresden

in

art

to the studio

hopes that he would take her on

in the

168.

of

remembered

stands, ticket booths, lost

the occasion

when

a railroad station

as

her mother appeared at a partv'

established by murals of sausage

and information desks

— and

acted like a child

before returning as a mother looking for a missing child.

Variations outside the norm, the shifts from one state to another, the sense of something happening: these brought considerable delight to

Anni and

Josef.

On

when

those occasions

were invariably fascinated by construction buildings, pointing out to Trial

and

error

Anni. By the time of our

handmade

me how

1

drove them to

sites

— never seemed

these grays imits had to be larger than she intended print so that the\- could be totalK' trapped, as

Anni saw She

Now,

was her

upper fault;

occasions and had applied too her

work

in

to frustrate

little

half

we

them

discovered that to be in the final

Anni wished them

as the first prints

that the gra\' of the

insisted that this

of new-

the print shop, she had had to redo the

pencil part of her print at least twice before

the solid design on top.

York, they

the process evolved.

the essence of process

visit to

New

and the scaffolding

began

to be,

by

to roll off the press,

was darker than

at

Annclisc and Ixniu

Berlin, ca. 1908.

did not) and her mother's complaints and pessimism. But

where the motif was

who was

all

initial talent,

recalled confrontation (even

the bottom.

she had done the two parts on separate pressure the second time. As with

weaving, certain issues were paramount: the knowledge

of materials, the decree of force or laxirv, the wish for deliberate balance

135

IL-isclim.iiiii.


and the adjustments required

as a setting for irregularity,

from the

initial

concept to an end result that was

The foreman

to proceed

completely

still

fresh.

joined the pressman in discussing the problem of

They determined would enable them to lighten the top gray. Anni the machine to correct her mistake. She explained

the two differing grays and Anni's wish to regulate them. that a press adjustment

was to

thrilled to use

oi us that the printing was as important to her artwork as was her

all

The

design concept.

initial

equipment, she subsequently told

role of the

me, had been equally important when she started twenty-two. "sissy stuff"

she used the term often

as

by which she had gained admission

jects

opposed

hoped

the other Bauhaus workshops she had

textile

work

medium and had

she had resisted the

Initially

— and

and metal

accompanied by

to enter.

it

As her entrance pro-

Bauhaus, she had made a

to the

a very naturalistic

a black-to-white color

age

to wall painting or

three-dimensional study out of the interiors of thermos bottles bits of glass

at

considered

drawing of

sequence.

— broken of wood

a piece

Not unnaturally

in light

of the thermos assemblage, once she was admitted she considered entering the stained-glass workshop,

where she admired the

made by

the glass-shard collages being

of the reasons that, in spite of having failed her

had become so eager

to

remain

at the

skill

and

originality

Josef, eleven years her elder initial

entrance exam, she

Bauhaus. (Josef coached her for the

second round of tests, which she passed.) But the Bauhaus masters

—and

one person was enough

in that field

metalwork would prove

to be too strenuous for her.

not

at all enthusiastic

wanted

to

do

in the possibilities

warp and

had

to

Kandinsky s, you had

do

that if

I

wanted

a

kind of railing to

me

a

tremendous help

to

so long as you, at the

weft,

"Even

structural aspect of knotting. Klee's or

and not something

She told me,

as sissy as

textiles,

and limitations of the loom, the

materials, the role of

and the if

to stay;

and

I

"I

was

as

think

I

same time,

are

it

I

working with

she immersed herself textures of the available

charms

as well as the

a painting student of

a course in a

wanted

the limitations that

me,

visible

you were

go through

to

that

that carpentry, wall painting, or

But once she accepted the idea of

threads."

felt

about going into the weaving workshop, because

a real man's job

of

and one

workshop. So

to stay. This

come with

I

weaving was

That was

a craft.

probably can be to anybody,

concerned with breaking through

it."

II.

knew a man once who was the best compositor in the world, and who was who devoted themselves to inventing artistic types; he derived joy, not so much from the very genuine respect i)i which he was held /

sought out by all those

by

persons whose respect was not lightly bestowed as from the actual delight in the exercise

of his

craft,

a delight not wholly unlike that which good dancers derive

from dancing. I have known mathematical

way

or

type,

difficult. I

also compositors

who were

or script, or cuneiform, or anything else that was out

did not discover whether

these men's private lives

but in their working hours their constructive instincts

— Bertrand A month print

up

experts in setting

of the

were happy,

ivere frilly gratified.

Russell'

or so before this trip to Fox Press,

one afternoon when we

print over a Velox

pattern, but did not

a

Anni had devised

a

second

accidentally juxtaposed a negative of the

shiny proof

want thin

— of

lines of

it.

first

She was happy with the resultant

blank paper to show between the

shapes and the overlap, a result that was possible to achieve only through printing techniques; there could not have been a study drawing.

shop foreman, who had

136

closely h)llowed the

1

he

development process of both


came over

prints, if

it

second image was coming oH the press and asked

as this

wasn't even better than

tlie

concept behind the

first

Anni smiled

print.

and agreed. As with the

image, Anni

first

margins so that the paper

The

frames.

size

would

lormat and

liad de\ ised tlie o\erall

fit

into prefabricated metal-strip

work

Alberses were both great believers in adjusting their

according to the

products. Standardization appealed.

sizes oi available

Anni had given up her loom

in

moving

1968 because she was

where no room was big enough

for

house

to a

or at least this was the reason

it;

she gave. (This obkiscation through sounding deceptively martcr-of-tact

me

struck

being on a par with her

as

passport as "housewife." Clearly

listing of her profession

on her

she had wanted to keep on weaving,

if

she could have moveti to a house with enough space for her loom.)

When

an earnest art historian once asked josef wh\' he had enlarged the

size of his

Honitiga

to the SqiKtrc

and had begun

a grou|i of fortx-eiglu-

by-forty-eight-inch panels, and, to Josef's irritation, suggested that

something

to

do with

a response to the scale of the

had

it

American landscape

and the oversize canvases used by the Abstract Expressionists, Josef replied that

was because he had gotten a larger station wagon.

it

Meanwhile, the press had been the second image. As

we admired

when he switched from Rives

BFK

It

was time

Hew

specified, the print

coverage lush and gorgeous. Just

made

and luxuriant

off the press,

one hundred and

like that,

of

to print the black

the proof paper to the thick

Anni had

that

up

set

the adjustments the pressman

its

ink

fifty sheets.

for lunch.

On

the car ride to a local restaurant,

woman,

this elderly

for

all

was again struck by how

I

had something

of the visibility of her struggles,

about her of an eager child. Her face undisguisedly revealed the

battles

of her youth; the rebellion against her mother and anger toward her rejected the trappings of upper-class existence for the rigors of

the Hight from

Nazism and, more arduous

years later to get family

and friends

powerful and

caused no

little

all

America when refugee ships were

to

in the

self-satisfieci

man, whose draw

marriage

a

for other

women

grief for his very self-conscious wife.

Anni often person

too

Modernism;

the painful efforts a few

yet,

being turned away from our shores; the ups and downs of to a

as she

room.

wherever she was she

said that "

She

first

"the youngest

felt like

me when

mentioneci this to

describing

being taken, as a child, to the Secession show in Berlin. Her father regularly

museums on Sundays;

took her to

more adventurous than

usual.

this

She

time he had opted for something

crowds shaking their heads disapprovingly "simply thought,

'Why

not?

"

shocked

said that as she observed the

Telling

me

at the

avant-garde images, she

when

this

she was seventy-six,

she remarked that having been the only child at that Secession exhibition, she had

felt like

that she

still

most of

my

like the

awkward

the youngest person in

always asked,

most situations ever

since,

and

"'Why not?"

Indeed, in attitucle and interest she was younger, and fresher, than

contemporaries, even

if

I

was

fifty

pleased with herself, but rather the one

who

She was

years her junior.

sort of adolescent girl, not the ver\- prett\-

has to

make

one patently

the extra effort,

the one intensely asking questions and looking at the world before her.

I

have, since that tirne, heard

who knew ever lived.'

saw her

in

Anni

her for years at Black I

called

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;â&#x20AC;&#x201D;by

Mountain

woman woman who

a perfectly guileless

"the homeliest

have also heard scores of witnes.ses

who

public describe her as incredibK- beautiful.

visited her 1

ler face

house or

was sharply

137


— — and sometimes

delineated, intense,

a bit crazed

but her looks were quite unlike anyone

Anni

was uncertain

It

problem with being Jewish because face because to her

like Virginia

to

me

for her as to

was associated

it

were very caught

whether she had a in her

any event,

in

much

as

1

would

body, but also with her religious heritage and, on

Nothing was easy

femininity.

was so

like a true

mind with

the

represented her Jewishness, which she eschewed for

it

— but

acknowledge

rather not

she was supremely uncomfortable not just with her

this,

Woolf's

she did not like in herself, or whether she disliked her

facial characteristics

other reasons

which

herself hated her features,

up with her Jewishness.

else's.

some

own

face

levels,

and

with her

complex person, who paradoxically

for this

ingenue.

In the car that day,

on the way

to the restaurant, she

was happier

than usual and eagerly took the conversation from topic to topic. She and Josef led a

life

of remarkable solitude. Their house was truly a machine

for working, with living as a secondary concern; they virtually never spent their evenings

with other people, and any encounters they had were almost

always for the purpose of making or showing

art.

Josef was not

inclined under any circumstances to discuss politics or world

much

affairs.

Anni,

on the other hand, was keenly aware of the news, which came to her through a large radio and a TV that sat on rolling tables near her bed, and if her husband, she told me, felt as if the news was "all the same, always repeating her.

not

itself,

as interesting as art," the events

of the world fascinated

Like Josef, she too had art as a credo; she would point out that while

science constantly changes

unique

and new

discoveries outdate old ideas, art offers

the example of a two-thousand-year-old Korean

stability, citing

teapot with timeless appeal that affects the beholder in as the art

On

of our

way

the

own

times. Nevertheless, the

lunch and

to

recent shooting

on an

at the restaurant,

Israeli airplane;

most

much

news mattered

the

same way

to her.

what was on her mind was a often, though, in that time

period she was preoccupied with Watergate and desperate to discuss

Maureen Dean or Martha Mitchell or Nixon himself In some ways, she seemed to be a broader intellectual, and a fuller person, than Josef With the Israeli shooting as her topic, Anni's ambivalence about being Jewish was again apparent. Although she would subsequently change it,

in her will at that

been

there, she felt

time she had

Museum

textiles to the Israel

an

left

her collection of Pre-Columbian

in Jerusalem;

even though she had never

affinity for that country. Yet she

would often

describe herself as Jewish only "in the Hitler sense": her mother's family,

named

UUstein, had gone through a mass family conversion to Christi-

anity at the

end of the nineteenth century, and her

Fleischmann, had seen to her being confirmed

hood

in Berlin's great

She was proud that

as a

father, Siegfried

Lutheran

in her child-

and fashionable Karl Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche.

this latter fact

had enabled her and Josef

to acquire the

grave plots they wanted in Orange, in the section of the cemetery where

Catholics like Josef were generally not allowed to be buried. (The choice

of burial

site

was extremely important

to

them, in part because they want-

ed to be right next to the narrow driveway that wandered through the

cemetery so 169. Josef

Town

and Anni

Albers's graves,

Orange

that,

go to the post

once the

office

first

of them had died, the remaining one could

and then drive into the graveyard, stop the

car, roll

Cemetery, Orange, Connecticut.

down

company of the other Indeed, Anni often made such

the window, and read the mail in the

without having to get out of the

car.

although, contrary to plan, she was driven there by

never seemed to understand that,

meant entering from

118

if

my

visits,

wife or me, and

she was to be right next to Josef this

the opposite direction than they had originally


planned, since

But

car.)

Anni

now

she was in the passenger's seat, on the other side ot the

of anti-Semitism,

in the face

Anni had when,

me

told

month

a

how oHended

she was

named

known

said that they should have

her.

doubt that she saw any irony

me numerous

Irom hrankturt

nastily ot "Jewish girls

Anni I

about

earlier

Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe and anottier architect,

at the

Ludwig Hildesheimer, had spoken

to

as reflected in the violence in Israel,

considered herself to be Jewish.

better than to

even though she had explained

in this,

times that she didn't really consider herscll to be Jewish.

own background was

But her attitude toward her

unique

as

as

when

everything else about her. Instead ol reacting with anger or fear

her

Jewish heritage had forced them out ol Germany, she told

me

she had

"uncomfortable and responsible lor Jo.sels having to leave

his

homeland

alter lorry-five years."

Josef's neck.

When

"

;

that in Iront of

.say

She considered

herself "almost a weight

had docked

their boat

New

in

lelt

around

York, hours late

because of a storm, and the photographers, there to cover the arrival of first-class

passengers but then told that a famous artist was also

had begun

who had

of the Modernist

to take pictures

mood

Black Mountain, a jaunty newspaperman had lightened her

else: "

erably with a remark that might have infuriated .someone Let's get the wife too!"

delight

he had exclaimed. Anni quoted

on numerous occasions. She

been happy to surrounding

.see

this to

relished his informality,

someone break ranks from

the

on board,

arrived to teach at

consid-

Fhe wife.

me

with

and she had

crowd of reporters

The attention had somehow helped assuage her

Josef.

There was never an

iota

of resentment

In spite of her not having

guilt.

her retelling of the incident.

in

been offended when others might have

been, Anni often considered herself the victim of an insult or rudeness;

many times her memories of people had made to her. Mies, Anni would was central

revolved around a nast)' remark they

another of our conversations,

recall in

She and Josef were newly-

to yet another social slight for her.

weds and had

just

moved into one of the masters' houses at the Dessau new bride that Mies and his mistress, Lilly Reich,

Bauhaus. Josef told his

would be coming for dinner. Anni was determined to do her best in every way possible. Her mother had given her a butter curler, and she made a neat

mound

arrival.

of butter balls that she put

Mies and Reich had only

her and burst out, "Butter the Bauhaus you'd have a

Here

balls!

good

on the

walked

just

at

wound

table prior to their guests'

when Reich looked

the Bauhaus!

solid ^/of^

Anni's face betrayed the

in

I

should think

consequence

she had incurred at the remark;

of the same. Once,

a year or so following

after Josef's death),

my

exhibition of Josef's al,

no-makeup

larly

wife purchased a

work

prettiness

new

marriage

total lack

and very becoming

a source

of vanity,

dress.

was stretching out

with more than the usual "Is that a

new

(a

much

few months

dress for the

of envy

We

felt

for

Anni

opening of an

—whose — was not

in

high

the

lilt

last

to Anni's

spirits,

house

and, in spite

rather pleased about the simply cut

She entered Anni's bedroom at

natur-

particu-

went together

up belore the event. Katharine was

of an almost

tically,

my

the Yale Art Gallery. Katharine

at

was

confident about clothing matters.

to pick her

— perhaps

beleaguered victim could dish out

this

at

of butter."

she said that she had barely been able to get through dinner. Yet as a natural

before

minute

to rest

— Anni,

characteris-

up before the event

to her walk.

dress?"

Anni asked

as she

gazed seriously.

"Yes," Katharine answered.

"Can you by

a sadistic smile.

still

return

What

it?"

This second question was accompanied

the incident realK- ie\ealed about

Anni

139

170. Josef in

New

and Anni Albcrs arriving

York on board the SS Europa,

November

24, 1933.


her jealousy, her extreme mixture of kindness and nastiness, or her cruelty,

whether deliberate or inadvertent

hard to gauge, but

is

was

it

t\'pical.

Yet in spite of this exchange, and other comparable slights,

Katharine had considerable fondness and respect for Anni

Once, when going

the unique workings of her mind.

up some

to pick

requested "a banana"

or the other as

was the

— pronounced bah-«/?/>nah — No

"an avocado."

ly stretched

was making

groceries for Anni, she

if

one

Katharine

else,

—and

relished

market

to the local

a

list

when Anni

with the as similar-

or,

could want one

felt,

they were comparable. But for Anni texture, not

taste,

issue.

Katharine also took particular delight in Anni's obsession with lyi.

For Kathy's Nov.

1982. Yellow

14.6

X

15.9

12, igSi,

cm

(5

/<;

X

6

warehouse where

to the

inches).

/^

She was fascinated by the way

plastic.

marker on wove paper,

enormous

used to cover sofas

clear bags

when

that,

went

the three of us

was stored, Anni would covet the

Josef's art

Collection of Katharine Weber.

just as she relished the sleeves

given by banks for savings-account passbooks. Katharine has often

map of some

Like a medieval

Anni's drawing for

my

distant island,

twenty-seventh

birthday in 1982 signifies the uncharted

and unchartable nature of her own emo-

who made

remarked that Anni was the only person she has known covers for her washer

and

dryer.

The

herself out of shower-curtain material favorite of

slip-

great textile artist stitched these

—which, Katharine

felt,

was Anni's

substances.

all

me, the drawing has

tional geography. For

always represented something unspoken

between

that existed

was one of mutual

us.

Our

relationship

affection,

and occasional

sparring.

The same week

adversarial

made this we were

she

drawing, Anni learned that expecting our second child perhaps, but also another

— another

member

an edge. left

The

three squared dots

are elements that

might

it

over the open top of the form and

about

inside. Is

body?

Is it

it

a

political

views were based on the impressions people made, on their faces

Indian wife.

maze?

Is it

I

pleasant,

The

more than on any deeper knowledge

So she and Josef liked Nelson Rockefeller,

and had

little

novelist Robert

something about of

up

move

is it

suspended, a weighted, chunky form that

"who had

use for Gerald Ford,

Penn Warren was of no

his face. It

was

as if

interest to

people were

like

who seemed

a face like a knee."

them

— because of

constructed works

the qualities of balance or aggressiveness, of correctness or ugliness,

art:

could be apprised even with a cursory view.

Anni

a living

leaping across the page or

learn over the years that

character,

also has

on the

travel

said that she

many of her

his

of their platforms. Looks were paramount, in people outside the realm of

of

and dimensional, because

flat

— and

admired

politics as well.

her thick line seems to float yet

would

also sang the praise

candidate

a potential presidential

rival,

organic shape in the drawing

looks both

— then

and the appearance of their

her not quite family.

The

At lunch on the day of our Fox Press outing, Anni of Fred Harris

respect, cautious

for,

seem

also didn't

to have

would often

the effects of her words. So she

theory that what seems bad at

first

any awareness

can

in the

of,

or at least concern

when

say,

justifying her

long run be beneficial, "After

her shaky pen has carved in the paper?

Did she

anticipate that our second

all,

this Hitler business

not grasp, even

Does the drawing depict her conception

might offend

of the three

little

Webers nearly devoured

by the grasping, looming form of her distorted body?

Or were we

her safe harbor?

Katharine Weber

had the

statement the view that

Red China seemed

the ideal country, for

society lacked. She

complained that we had too much freedom

like a tiny

archipelago along her coast, sheltered in

turned out rather well for Josef and me." She did

when my wife pointed it out to her, that this some people. Now, at lunch, Anni put forward

baby would take us farther away from her?

moment But

if

just as there

it

discipline

had been too much freedom

her effect on her audience didn't count,

it

at

me

now. He'd be furious

When Anni lunch,

1

offered

improve our change.

but

I

My

and

up the

my

father

idea that

society, that

I

and

if I

seemed

he heard

me

at that

said,

say that."

drove back to Fox Press after

did not think any government could

I

thought that religion could help;

I

of the Bauhaus come

alive:

Hard work,

clarity,

and

brilliant art

this diaart!"

through buildings,

through teacups, through the design of newspapers, there could yes to the soul.

said no,

"Through

logue, apparently deep in thought. Suddenly she burst out, faith

"I'm glad

our whole way of thinking was what needed to

father asked if

was the

husband

that her

thought that education might. Anni was quiet throughout

It

own

Black Mountain.

was her conscience or superego: smiling apologetically, she Josef can't hear

our

result a

could together change

the world.

The magnificence of this

140

woman became

clear to

me. She had

a


faith

system both tor herself and for

a belief

she devoted her

life.

was by doing everything she could ways,

her as a husband

irritate

their relationship

credo. But

side

too apparent

all

and code she

that, entirely in her

— and constantly looking. "to

open

sometimes obstreperous,

yang of

wife.

own

this better

Anni

They

raison d'etre.

a true

make

to

his

com-

Annis

his laundry, served

right, she

make open

was daring and

giv-

after arriving at

the eves"

— which soon

his higliK- influential

than his uncompromising,

— — had

ancJ Josef together

two sometimes contrasting

their

which

organization of an exhibition

svnon\'mous with

eves," the v\'ords

and

had declared, shortly

Josef

— and no one exempliHed

teaching

to

Josef; he might, in

— but he was

revered,

in the

Black Mountain, that his goal was "to

became

and aid

to support

of the ocean or the doing of

be\ond

the disappointments and frustrations of

run more smoothly, whether

life

on the other ing

were sometimes

practitioner of the philosophy

plex

societ\- at large

Part of the \va\- that she ser\ed this liigher [nirpose

personalities

for

the vin and

all

common

a

believed that art could change the world as nothing else

could. Morality, balance, decency, a responsiveness to the richness of

human

the universe and of

of this could be revealed and abetted

life: all

through paint, thread, and ink.

Anni was immensely

When,

a

few weeks

she recalled that

made "through

later,

my

before bringing

all this,

but she was also wry.

the topic of social change again,

father had offered that

improvement might be

She repeated

a

sex."

was one of her

learn,

serious in

we took up

this

with

glimmer. Sex,

She had

favorite topics.

to

1

would

know someone

later

very well

up, but, sometimes playful, sometimes mischievous,

it

she had lots of questions she wanted answered, lots of words she had

heard on television and neecJed to have explained. Once, Black Mountain asked her wJio

at

been or

who

when

a

student

she would most like to have

in history

her favorite imaginary persona was, Anni, with her rather

and mmlike persona, did not miss

sticklike figure

a beat in her

answer:

"Mae West." Back

at

Fox Press

after lunch,

found contentment

Anni again bore the look of glee

—with which

do with the making

of art.

Once

commenced any

she

— bearing an uncanny resemblance

Vicomtesse de Noailles,

— of

pro-

having to

she had gone through the diplomatic

niceties with the pressmen, she seated herself again

chair

activity

on the simple wooden

to Balthus's portrait

of the

which that great patron of the avant-garde was

in

painted not in one of her elaborate residences but rather, dressed austerely,

on

a

simple side chair

rugged

in the artist's

atelier,

her face serious, her

thoughts turned inward. Anni became both resolute and concentrated, a

missionary on a campaign, a research scientist peering into a microscope

in the

to

hope

that

what would soon be

visible

might provide an answer

an unsolved mystery of existence. She approved the tone and color mix

of the red for her

first

print,

wash-up, Anni compared weaving, securit)',

it

was

all

and off

it

rolled.

this necessity to the

Then, watching the press

counting of threads

part of the process of art, she remarked.

the sense of hope, the sublime feeling of possibility afhirded by

that process

were her

Now

it

elixir.

was time

to

run the brown of her second print. Josef had

selected the precise ink a few days earlier from the In that simple act of collaboration,

one could

asked questions about their relationship as fellow

living

and working together

in the

PMS

see the

ink swatch book.

answer to the often-

artists, as a

wife achieving different levels of success in similar

woman

in

The emotional

fields, as a

husband and

man and

twentieth ceritiu\. I'he Alberses

141


were

rwo-person religious

like a

Their goal was simple: to make the

sect.

best possible art.

They

to this task. Like

two builders working

same

cared above

edifice, occasionally

all

about honesty

on the

work, they mainly

of Josef leaving the house

Or was

and he did not want

known of rwo

at 8

North Forest

in her

this

wife's success, as the observer

On

great artists.

maintain that

as

claim

is

that

Anni

suffered as the lesser-

who

the other hand, there are weavers

Mrs. Josef Albers she had entree where they did

from the

visits to

her house of art-

kitchen

Circle,

Connecticut, 1958.

for the

following the publication of his Interaction of

not, that she benefited considerably

Anni Albcrs

the director of

to steal the stage but rather to let his wife

The common

enjoy the attention?

172.

when

because he was then at the peak of his fame, particu-

it

community

larly in the Yale

bitterly

kept their

not returning until after the deal was complete. But was

out of jealousy, his not being able to bear his

Color,

just

buy one of Anni's weavings

the Yale Art Gallery arrived there to

inferred?

erection of the

hears stories that suggest that there was competitiveness in

their relationship, like that

museum and

on the

not on each other.

job,

One

side

they might take advice from one another, hear

a helpful suggestion; otherwise, in their

eyes

by

side

.

approach

in their

New

Haven,

name that was known by every critic and work amount to less because she functioned,

world luminaries, and from

museum

Did her

director.

a last

to use her favorite term, as "that

dragon

her

at the door," protecting

husband from the sometimes unwelcome advances of journalists,

and students? Did she

lose

gallerists,

out because of the time she spent doing his

laundry or preparing his meals? Indeed, Josef was so inept in this latter process that once,

Anni was heading

to the hospital for a scheduled operation that

require her absence of three days, she

instructed

him

him

precisely

on how

(twice)

left

out a row of cans of food,

and showed

to use the electric can opener,

what was involved

in

when

would

turning the stove on and off But,

as

she often pointed out, the activity of thinking about food and cooking

only entered her

once she was

life

the sort of household

where only

fifty;

1950,

when

she and Josef arrived in

it

like a

new

artistic

refer to the color

And

Mountain

New

it

childhood she had lived

staff entered the kitchen; at the

there had been a cafeteria, at Black

about making dinner.

in her

in

Bauhaus

dining room. Only in

a

Haven, did Anni have to think

rather than resenting the task, she approached

medium.

Josef, after

arrangements of

all,

used the word "recipe" to

Anni too saw cooking

his Homages:,

an act of taking components and combining them

effectively,

even

as

was

if it

an area where she favored minimal expenditure of time and energy and

aimed merely

for adequate, not exciting, results.

(When

I

was

first

setting

up modest bachelor digs and clearly had little idea about how to cook, heaven and she advised me on her favorite recipe, for ''himmel und erde'

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

consisted of taking a jar

of applesauce and mixing

earth.

It

parts,

with instant mashed potatoes.)

But whatever the

When

things for Josef

details,

she once told

band asked

manage

me

to shake off the

met the

once and

for

all.

The

him

shirts

of an occasion

for her help

tion with Josef,

in equal

that she liked

doing

he died, one of her immediate laments was that

she would miss the need to buy level,

Anni often claimed

it,

when he wanted

woman on

and

when

his

to

socks.

On

quite a different

she was pleased that her hus-

end

a love affair

own; Anni,

in

and could not

complete collabora-

forlorn mistress in order to stop the relationship

terms of their marriage are hardly to everyone's

taste,

but apparently they suited the participants. Anni's

memory of their early courtship reveals a singular lack may explain a lot of her subsequent attitudes. At

of confidence, which

142

her


Bauhaus Christmas party

first

by

brilHant green silk accented

many

from

gifts to distribute

shy newcomer"

tion, "a

Anni was

I

knew

home

in Berlin tor

similarly surprised

when

a

photograph

told

me

a

few

good

was an image

hir her.

It

when

knew

from her

feet

gr.icctu! l\g\ ptiaii

hgure existed,

I

her,

on the

pillow. In hict, every to her bed.

173.

Gionu, ihght

into

l.g)'l>t<

1304-06.

Scrovegni Chapel, Padua.

that shortly after receiving the Egyptian figure,

some money by

made out of little now seeing often,

selling necklaces that she

whom

she was

have a conventional suit made.

tailor to

and

ot the

shows the bronze next

beads, and this enabled her to take Josef, "to a

one

her rwentv-

package arrived

a lithe

her bedside

at

it

ot an\'whcre she ever lived

Anni she earned

had

still

wooden bookshell onK'

plain white

was unequivocal.

Josef; the thrill

Joset had secured this

Anni

well, since

descrip-

Suddenly

she was

when

Pergamon Museum. Only rwo copies

and the near-penniless

get one.

her a print of Giotto's Flight into

containing a twelve-inch-high bronze copy of figure at the

a dress of

— by her own

would not

that she

He handed

1 he following June, third birthday,

— she wore

huge basket; Anni

his

The card was addressed to her from

Egypt.

in 1922

pink velvet ribbon. Santa Claus had

a little

— knew

Santa called out her name.

Weimar

in

khaki corduroy jacket with a hint of white

His usual garb was a

"

silk scarf

showing beneath

it;

while Anni considered this very becoming, she was also concerned about unconventionality. She reacted similarly to the

its

forward in bangs:

"I still fall for

any man with

way he wore

his hair

this haircut today,"

she allowed with a smile, but she added that he had to change this haircut

Weimar

for the reason that "the waiters in

restaurants were inattentive

because of his bohemian looks." In a similar vein, Anni the

new

she wanted them to

easy about the

feel

These attitudes

art school."

notions about clothing in

message of

class

— both

its

he should have

felt

world of her parents;

suit as a necessary prelude to a visit to the

young man from

"the adventurous

and the

the aesthetic preferences

sociological context, or visual

—were with Anni throughout

her

st\'le

and the

life.

Indeed, the entire Fleischmann family was charmed by Josef in his suit. side."

Annis

brother, ten years

Her younger

for bringing

home

sister

younger than

wrote to Anni

"the beautiful

at

she, "could not leave Josef's

the Bauhaus just to thank her

Memling." Her mother would

Josef that if he ever had an\- real trouble with Anni, the house

open

to

him without

her.

When

Josef in 1925, was the

first

later tell

was always

student to be

asked by Gropius to become a master at the Bauhaus, meaning to Anni (so surprisingly traditional in certain

ways) that she could

parents about their getting married, her parents gave their the wealthy Jewish Berliners readily

Catholic, even far less

if Josef's

father

support;

in Bottrop,

church a short walk from the Fleischmanns' apartment as guests

ask her

full

embraced the impoverished Westfalian

and stepmother, back

comfortable with the match. Anni and Josef were

immediate family present

now

— and then

wed

were

in a Catholic

—with only her

repaired to the elegant

Hotel Adlon for a celebration lunch. Larger parties and events, Anni and Josef

felt,

were not for them. They belonged,

things like that";

the

of the Alberses' time

rather, "to those

and

had

energ)'

who do

to be focused

on

making of art.

In 1953 in

all

New

and

1954,

when

Josef was teaching in

Haven, they wrote

spondence that

is

to each other

all

Ulm

while Anni remained

the time

— thus

one of the few written testimonials

leaving correI'^4

and

I~5.

RcprodiKtion

figurine given to

communication with one another.

An emphasis on

She wrote

Anni by

t;\p(iaii

Joset

on her

tweniy-third birthday (above), and the

clothing, as well as

Josef, are recurring themes.

1

of their particular

to

him

Annis

delight in helping

figurine

shortK- after his departure, in

on Anni

s

bedside shelf at

808 Birchwood Drive, Orange, Connecticut. 1994 (below).

143


a letter full

of chat about the details of

more

family (they were apparently

time

I

knew them) and

done or off. It

wrong,

said

something quality, as

—dinners out with

friends

and

Anni's usual mix of pleasure and fear of things

painting your ceiling now,

"I started

goes slow. But

life

sociable during this period than at the

your

all

shirts

new

have their

all

gets done."' Pleasure, rather than resentment,

the paper

So

collars. is

is

at least

a salient

her love for her husband and for the sights and miracles of

is

existence they savored together:

The moss outside

and greener as

looks uwnderful, greener

the days

get wetter.

Almost 2

Now Four days

iveeks

gone by

III

two weeks

less.

and paint some more ceiling, being in your room helps. after writing to him almost daily with typewritten pages

I'll

later,

go

of news, she concluded,

full

/ like

How love

Three days

your room.

best being in

the dark beer?

is

and

Ank.

love

after that, there

coats

and tomorrow

Remains

But

still

was more of the same:

now

your room, the area ivith the 2 doors

Still painting

I hope

toward the

the niche

has two

get the last one so that that

to

street

.

.

.

and

is

done.

the radiator.

begins to look ivonderful.

it

abound here. Josef's father had been a housepainter, while someone who hired workmen for such tasks. Josef made art with paint the medium that Anni would gladly have opted which she only used now, in this menial way, to redo his over textiles Ironies

Anni's had been

— —

his

for

room

in his absence.

But no such factors or resentment entered her

conscious thoughts. Her delight was

total.

Two-and-a-half weeks

later,

she

reported,

I finished your room today, the awful radiator

with two coats

come

back.

early,

but

As a

it

and

ofi enamel,

noiv

it

now fine

is

can smell

made up your bed

special treat, I

white

itself out until you

today,

a

little

made me feel good.

Along with news of arrangements with the Sidney Janis Gallery on Josef's behalf with a keen response to his letters their lack), with chat about further evenings out and details of bank

in

New York made (or

statements and other aspects of domestic so ambivalent about her

same time intensely go there

new Monday!!!" The a

Most important:

my

grown

How

end of one

letter,

hairdresser

report

lessons

is

came

days

to cut excellently,

later:

fom

one of your students, Slutsky or so, someone again, perhaps Si. I think

much better already and gradually he shape when all that was cut wrongly has

hair into better

Si

will

two of Josef's most successful knowing that the element of their sense their teacher's wife had to do with her

Sillman

—would have

felt

Anni was not being

frivolous; hair

In evaluating Josef 's students, if Anni that she

144

supposed

questionable.

Yet

all

five

is

it is

of form that mattered most to coif

who

back.

Robert Slutsky and

students at Yale

at the

ivants to continue ivith

you would agree that get

woman, who was

that I have a hairdresser ivho has a sense offormlll

Has taken drawing

and he

this

appearance, so seemingly plain while

self-conscious, also reported, at the

'And most important: will

own

life,

had

to

do was

wanted

refer to "the

was

a serious matter.

to denigrate

bearded ones."

any of them,


Not. 28.53

Juv7e I onlyDie Uberfahrt klingt nicht so besonders erholend! hope you were not too miserable and that you recovered on The menu looks enormous! the rest of the trip.

And by now I hope you are in Ulm and that it is what you Maybe Sofar I had a letter from Southhampton. had hoped for. another one v.ill come today.

Thanksgiving I was All goes well here and people are nice. next door at the Halls, with your photos, and all was reallynice. One afternoon the Chaets came with the archaeology One evening I had Si and Jim and girl and that was nice too. Sheilagh and she is going to take her Jeep station wagon to New York with Si and me to pick up the Cooper Union things. So that will I had offered to pay for all expenses involved. be Dec. 1. if there is not snow by then, as the weatherman has announced CCr these days. Today Wu has asked Kans & Bettyincluding children and me for dinner. I aim- embarrassed that by bringing the children he will have such a crowd. I They come asked him to bring them first for cocktails here. already early in the afternoon and ?.'u is taking them through the gallery. (

!

)

Paps writes he plans to stay till april. What then, I don't know, Hans writes he wants to take up the money problem.

Yesterday Si took me after lunch with them, to the upper part of the Gallery with the Asia things etc. Looks really fine. George Howe I have not reached yet. Never there. Do write him a postcard. I'll also try again. ^'Sf ^ t" ^v^ a y ^ ^ A nice note from Farnsworth, Chicago. And one from Bobby... I'll go there for Christmas. started painting your ciiling now, all the paper is off. slow. Put all your shirts have their new collars. So at least something gets done. I

It goes

The moss outside looks wonderful, greener and greener as the days get wetter.

Almost

2

weeks gone by!!!

two veeks less.

Now I'll go and paint some more ceiling, being in your room helps. so love,

<^vv^.<^

176. Letter

from Anni Albcrs

November

28, 1953.

to Josff Albers,

14s

C<

t^

u^


tenimed for a second

Josef

Ulm

stint in

in the spring of 1955,

document both the feelings and the details that mattered to the .\lberses. Anni s voice repeals the same resened exuberance tbar is evident in her art, a comparable immersion in tactile and \4sual pleasures, and a need for emodonal connection that is as strong as the feeling for linkages of thread and shape. In a letter wrinen to "Juvel" on Mav iz, she assured him. "Here all is fine and I am not lonelv because I ha\e such a good feeling about us and the i~. to look forward to. Aug. i~ so again there are letters that

is

wiiai tbey

here

sai.-

VHjen

the

is

arri%"al

took laxi

i>ou leji,

She

date.~

tweed and

TTD'se^a really good coat, m^ersibU,

think vou

sidi,

saw

u-ill

were

still

rain-coat, inside-out-

apprvir, expensiie too, ~^,T7. In other stores

So now I have a good one

Twtlyino tijoi looked rizht.

TTie%-

also reported,

w Abrrcrombu and Fitch and bou^n

both wearing these coats when

too.

knew them

I

more than fifteen ^^ears laten in a \*ay the .-Vlberses sometimes looked like brother and sister as much as the}" did husband and wife, and the simple, generous cur of these coats with raglan slee\es gave them a comp>arable iook of timeless fashion. The warm tweed and practical waterproof material

were a

and appealing combination.

srviish

Art and other aspects of the visual world permeate dence.

Anni reported to Josef, of a show

"Tliere

is

a fi-ench painter in there, Manessier,

nne. he looks right and wiiat he writes

w^iom

beautihil,

is

show an equal concern

time, the leuers

Museum

at the

I

I

this correspon-

of Modem Art,

Uke. Pictures look

think."

At the same

Shordy before

for the fimadonal.

going to teach at dbe Ha}-stack School in Maine. .Anni informed Josef

Bought myselfsom£

light colored

and washable

cotton slacks for

Ofall places it wasfijudly Sean Roebuck where Ifound

l^imne.

some decent

ones. Tried Abercrombie etc.

.

.

And there too,

.

I bought myselfa birthday present, a little gray metal typewriter table on rollers, charming only ~.)0 amazingly enough. It comes packed in parts and on the 12th [fune 12, her birthday] I will get it out and put

Hope

it

so love

will

think

it together,

just right to roll around on

my

uvrk out when

and it seems At least that's what I think/

fiou will like it

own.

up.

its set

and love, from Ankele

.-\nd six

days

later,

on the

twelfth, this

woman, who

so relished

had received

dbe assembling of components, wTote to "Jm'el"

first

three birthday letters fi-om

really turned into a fine

birthday

— him on time — added. with your my new And now I am —I had around which "so

jxjwerful help" sitting

together

and was

^and

at

gray metal typewriter-table,

saved it for today, the putting

ofthe parts and it took me a good part ofthe morning interesting to do.

After JoseTs death, Anni found ries

little

dye room,

rolls

it

he was indifferent

me my first prints

at

it

easy to fault him; in her

rimes to her bad health, comf)eririve

looked like

wallf>a{>er 'j.

and

about the financial well-being that came to him

dme, she saw I said.

herself as equally difficult

The}' re like Easter e^s. If that s

have enough to the

last

eat.'").

years of their

sar\- less

that she

But

life

all

you

way

memotold

parricularly

secretive

lace in life.

("When he made

at least in the

THe

praint,

that

I

now we 11

ne\'er

them in wedding anniver-

often saw

together, through their fiftieth

than a year before Josef died in 19-6, and

At the same

his first squares,

as their great

Black

Mountain companions and housemates Ted and Bobbie Dreier knew them to be, the Alberses, in ^ite of the occasional squabble, were mutually

supponive teammates, intensdy lespeoful of each

other's dedication to art.


seriousness oi purpose,

and

titles

and acliie\enient. joset

iiuegrit)',

information on

otiier

back oi Annis

tlie

some

handwriting; was neater than hers. In

Anni voiced

tor her to use. Likewise,

Homages. In

them

her

fact, in spite of

much

glorious, so

on others

his

a preference for certain of Josef's

response,

initial

uhnn.ueK

slie

we

so that after Josef's death

of those over

because

he also suggested a color

cases,

which she had

toiuui

m

discovered that,

addition to the thousands of artworks he had already

on the backs

wrote the

al\va\'s

\\ea\ int;s

he had,

left her,

\'oiced particular

enthusiasm and

that he considered his ultimate achievements, written "N.F.S."

— "Property

not for sale

came

collection that

He had

mourning.

of A.A.

also

— but

So within

"

a

her period of deepest

in

— given her

alwa\s knew

this she

was

Josef's collection there

complete surprise

to her as a

the Hrst

of ever\' print edition.

Anni was proud

made

at

Fox

that Josef

He

Press.

that for years they

had selected the brown

was, after

were

the colorist.

all,

in different fielcis

the wea\er, while he pursued glass

was mainly involved,

helped, of course,

within the same arena

she was

and metal and wood and then paint

when both were printmakers

but even

different (he

second print she

for the

It

work was

the nature of their

so

in the late stage of his graphics, the

point at which Anni took up the medium, in color as the central issue, she

more

in line

and surface and the

competition was not

shop of Ken

Tyler,

went

I

he\'

knew

by side

side

where they made many of their

and offering suggestions.

on an artwork

of the process) that

particularities

a factor. Rather, they

better than to

and too — both were too — but they completely supported and

work and

the priorit\' of

— she

hollowing Josef's death decades

—Anni

pride, with a slightly arrogant

him manners.

behave

in the

knowledge of

when

She, after

'

all,

came from

a

had

face, "I

F'nglish, v\hich

made such

made him sound and

about

see

it!'"

do

a

his best

and

how

there was her

think,' she

on

his

own,

losef

knew none

felt:

Zastrow functioned his class

one

'And he

Zastrow

this;

my

a

insists that

relinc|uish the job

a

German government

pro-Nazi clippings

all

look at

you think and

that

them up and threw them

othcial.

losef 1

lis

arcnind the Lee Hall

room, the main place where people congregated

me, "while

an inter-

as

Mrs. Zastrow

'Do have

"If he said,

say,

day.

anecdote about Mrs. Zastrow and

Mrs. Zastrow's son was

course, picked

nurse and governess.

him. At Black

in English.

a telling

left

on

would

that Mrs.

Irish

also interpret for

sat in

too Teutonic, Anni

what you

doting mother regularly living

Anni

Anni demanded

herself.

do

a difference

woman named Fmily

Anni recounted

"I, of

Then

Anni had had an

F.nglish,

preter for Josef's teaching,

Josef

to

world where people served

they emigrated to America in 1933. This, too, reflected the class

Mountain, when

to

For one thing, she would say with

so.

fancy houses of art collectors.

So she could teach him

and

social,

him by nearly two

outlived

and superior look on her

difference of their backgrounds.

this

he did not. She could guide the son of a Westfalian laborer on

her;

to

interests

to a secont1ar\' sphere.)

often recalled the ways in which she had helped him; she

was immensely pleased to have done

teach

work together

respected each

(Other

in their li\es.

it

were relegated

all

work-

potentiall)' cantan-

strong-willed,

family, recreational

to

tr\-

kerous, for that other's

to the

prints, taking turns

at

Black Mountain.

in the Hreplace,"

Anni

told

honest and very careful Josef insisted, "You have no right

they aren't yours.'

.So

how

did he go about

iti*

He

picked them

up and put them into the back pages of the newspapers, which were thrown awav

ever\' morniii".

147


â&#x20AC;&#x201D; She

EngHsh

when

own

also rold a story at her

Once

to Josef.

expense about teaching

they were walking in a

"Browns

Josef saw a sign for

Anke: pasture?" Her answer was

field near Black Mountain and inquired, "Was ist das,

pasture,"

"Oh

certain:

very

that's

clear,

Juppi,

the opposite of future."

it's

Humor

was one of Anni's

Once, when

dark.

my

salient traits,

and

was often very

it

wife was visiting her in the hospital,

Anni was recovering from

a

broken hip, and

it

seemed

might go home the next

day, Katharine said, "So, if

and you're not here

Anni interrupted her with the

."

.

.

"Send a wreath."

When

Renwick Gallery

in

with a

stiff

come tomorrow instruction,

an exhibition of her work opened

Washington, D.C., and

New Haven

had come from

I

a

when

that the patient

in 1985 at the

well-meaning

who

visitor,

proudly presented her

just for the occasion,

and overarranged bouquet of flowers, the

presenter's face

aglow

with pleasure, Anni, in a wheelchair, put them on her lap with the words, "For

my

The woman stopped

casket."

even thought to

let

her off the

mind making people

not

In this respect, to receive

Museum a in

Anni Albers

at

the opening ot an

exhibition of her work, the

Gallery of the National

American

Renwick

Museum

of

Art, Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D.C., June

12, 1985.

in the

once

not sure

if

Anni

diplomatic efforts to get Anni

failed at all

whom

this

just to see her,

world.

It is

and a phone

call

that day

not having

come

she was eager to hear. She had no trouble

amiable

museum

professional,

who had made

the

loved her work, and, additionally, would help her

no wonder then

behind the Alberses' coming

museum

mood

she was in a bad

a digestive disorder

from

a friend

journey

am

I

thank you; she did

outside her chosen circle uncomfortable.

Modern Art because

of

being truly nasty to ijH.

a simple

an extremely thoughtful and courteous curator from the

combination of

from

I

in her tracks.

hook with

that Philip Johnson, the central figure

America and the curator of Anni's

to

first

Museum

of Modern Art in 1949, told me that he had realized early on that Anni was not someone who would act in

major

her

own

almost

show, at the

had no

best interests, that she

as if

instinct for public relations.

she associated gentility with fraudulence, good

sort of artistic shilly-shallying that infuriated her in people like

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;someone both she and Josef considered

himself

and

associate

Johnson

their friend

Mies van der Rohe. Alas, there was a side of Anni that was

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and not

simply perverse

very nice.

But when happy, Anni could be an angel. Back trouble with the line-up of the

A

with the black.

long, tense

through without the desired sat patiently.

was

the

a traitor to their artistic

Modernism he had once embraced through

credo and to the

It

PR with

brown

at

Fox

Press, there

second print

was

in juxtaposition

hour followed. Proof after proof came effect.

As she reviewed each

tions to the stripper

in the

I

paced back and forth

sheet, she

restlessly.

Anni

simply made further sugges-

and pressman, nodding her head "no" or smiling

Her object was to avoid white hairlines knew was that there was something about this

"yes" at their latest adjustments.

between shapes. image, both in

What

its

I

systematization and lack of simple resolution, that was

to resemble, or at least simulate,

of plant growth

as elucidated

Gems, Anni pointed

out,

both the structure of gems and the nature

by Goethe

depended on

in his Metamorpljosis of Plants.

irregularity in their cellular struc-

ture in order to be strong. Plant growth, according to the passages she

cherished in Goethe, revealed a repetition of

were three parts to the leaves.

now

roots, there

were

She had evoked both of these

systems;

if

there

qualities in her initial design.

and

But

she had to resolve the hairline problem; having achieved her well-

thought-out design, she wanted to refine

148

number

also three parts to the stems

it

according to the dictates of her


ever-demanding

eye.

There must

and

also be a clarit)'

and mystery inherent

as the playfulness

powerful

serenit}' as

complex pattern achieved

in this

through printcrK' o\erlapping. The tools of the process were essential to the creation of the artwork, and

now

compliance with the

It

by working

artists e\'e.

manipulated

to be

in

could be realized

a result that

Without condescension, she

the technicians involved in the process.

ed them not mereK'

coworkers but rather

as

watched the pressman use

some

change the

to

register

sections of the image to

We

avoid the white gaps in various places created wider gaps in others. tried

blowing up one pattern with the camera

pated

— but

destroyed the whole.

this

suggested using the Rives

would make

For Anni,

it

was

BFK

— here

working

the stripper partici-

kept pacing. Finally the foreman

paper saved for the

because the flimsy

a difference like the

I

treat-

as heroes.

wrench

his

a hair one way, then the other. Lining up

ness

oiil\'

tandem, and no one could ha\c been more respectful of

in

We

had

the\'

was

final prints; its thick-

and thin

of thick

paper was expanding.

trial

fibers, of jute

with

cellophane: a world of texture and reality she well knew, lb conserve the

remaining Rives, we

Anni foimd

print.

first

brown on some

ran the

that the red

second print on top of the discards from the that she took samples to

And

walls.

show

discards from the

— proofing — looked

and brown together first

this

so architectural

architects as possible patterns for tiled

fortunately the heavier paper

made

the difference.

pressman had touched up the plate by hand while

profound admiration and delight ran the print, and

— she approved

Italian bread,

afternoon printing session,

ing out to the car. "I

am

my

father

had gone out

at best

Anni

as

we were head-

meant

it.

her anxious. She was a poor passenger

of doing a

lot

of back-seat driving when

—and now we encountered

torrential rains. These,

reminded her of Mexico, where they had gone fourteen times,

when

initially

made

drive, however,

clearly in the habit

said,

to procure a loaf,

leaving with treasures," the former master of

the Bauhaus said enthusiastically; she truly

Josef was at the wheel

artist's last.

explaining that

Anni along with some scratch pads

to

the

While we were monitoring the

"Josef, a true Westfalian, lives for bread."

Our

—with

the line-up at

the

roller,

we were done.

At lunch, Anni had praised the

which he handed

Once

was on the

it

thus getting rid of the few white lines that remained

He

first

of the

enormous

they were nearly penniless. Mexico had had an

influence on both of them; Anni said that "art was everv^where there": in

peoples clothing,

in the

in their beads, in the

cheapest country pottery.

than a verbal one.

I

It

was

paint trim on the adobe houses,

a visual

would not normally

link

world

— more, perhaps,

Anni with Antonin Artaud,

but given Artaud's passion for nonverbal communication, gesture

and

facial

and the

ear for the voice of the ancient gods,

when

life

Artaud

his

emphasis on

expression rather than text, his feeling for the exotic and

he fled Paris in the 1930s,

as sophisticated

I

role of

Mexico

in Artaud's

have come to see Anni and Josef and

European Moderns of the same camp

—even

if

the

peyote that flavored Artaud's every thought in the Mexican villages he visited,

where he might well have walked by Anni and Josef would have

been anathema

to the artistic pair,

who were

so intent

on control and

rationalism.

But although Anni was happ\' to have the sheets of rain evoke

memories of I'enayuca and Oaxaca, they alarmed all

accounts had been quite resolute

visibly

cars

on the edge

and

of panic.

I

in

her; the

woman who

bv

her flight from Nazi Ciermanv was

offered to follow the lead of a few other

pull over to the side of the

highway

until the

downpour

let

up.

149


Anni gently implored. Under the

"Please,"

shelter of an overpass,

turned

I

off the motor.

Anni's face betrayed considerable relief "You deserve a reward,"

she said in a tone

been wanting to

more

jocular than patronizing. "Well,

know about

Patil Klee.

think

I

know

I

you the story of

will tell

I

you've

his fiftieth birthday." It

was 1929. Klee, Anni told me, was her "god

also her next-door neighbor.

and unapproachable

aloof

he was

at the time";

Although the Swiss painter was,

in her eyes,

Christopher carrying the weight

"like Saint

—she admired him tremendously. She had watercolors — purchase having been

of the world on his shoulders" even acquired one of his

the

a rare

public admission of her family's wealth (she told

embarrassed by the appearance 179- Josef Albers,

Biarritz VIII

'zg,

Paul

Klee, (Guetary)

1929. Collage of three

photographs, mounted on board

The

Josef and

Hispano

Stiiza that

Anni Albers Foundation,

corridor of the

were hiring

in

which Klee tacked up

new Bauhaus

Anni heard

birthday,

Bethany.

a small

that she

had been so

Dessau Bauhaus of her uncles

at the

she had begged them to leave immediately)

one of the exhibitions

(detail).

me

most recent work

his

As her god approached

building.

in a

—out of

that three other students in the

his

in a

major

weaving workshop

plane from the Junkers aircraft plant, not far away, so

that they could have this mystical, other-worldly man's birthday presents

descend to him from above; he was beyond having

gifts arrive

on the

earthly plane.

were to

Klee's presents

angel.

Anni made the curled

arrive in a large

hair for

Other Bauhauslers made the

shavings.

from Lyonel Feininger,

a

out of

it

package shaped

shimmering

tiny,

the angel

gifts

would

like

an

brass

carry: a print

lamp from Marianne Brandt, some small objects

from the wood workshop.

Anni was not

l^^^l

^^^^V^BI^'^*^^/

originally scheduled to be

on the small Junkers

when

aircraft

from which the angel was

airfield

with her three friends, the pilot deemed her so light that he

she arrived at the

first flight.

As the

cold October air penetrated her coat and the pilot joked with the

young

invited her to get

on board. For

to descend, but

of them,

all

it

was the

ifts*-

weavers by doing complete turnabouts

open cockpit, Anni was so obsessed with responding with

fear,

they huddled together in the

as

abstract art that, rather than

what struck her most was the sudden awareness

of a new visual dimension. She had been living on one optical plane, and

now saw from 180. Paul Klee, Gifts for I

1928.

{Gabe fiir

I),

Tempera on gessoed canvas mounted

on wood, 40 X

55.9

cm

(15

The Museum of Modern

K X 22

Art,

Gift of James Thrall Soby.

inches).

New York,

a

very different vantage point.

She served the mission by spotting hers

and

Josef's, in the

As planned, they

building. crash.

row of let

Klee's

house next door to

masters' houses a short

out the

gift. It

But Klee was pleased nonetheless

unusual presents and their delivery

walk from the main

landed with

a bit

in a painting. Josef,

impressed. Later that afternoon he asked Anni

if

however, was

less

she had seen the

idiots flying

around overhead. Anni smiled mischievously

this. "I told

him

I

of a

he would memorialize the

as she recalled

was one of them," she said with her usual tone of

unperturbed defiance.

Although

in the

course ol time Anni

came

to

remember

Joset as indifferent

and comfort, when we pulled into the driveway of their house completing our drive when the torrents lessened to mere rain, he

to her needs after

opened the automatic garage door his wife

the

any unnecessary steps

window

for quite

handed him some lated as

may

it

some

prints

as

we made

in the rain.

time.

I

a

have been waiting at

he two of them were ebullient

and the bread;

have been, seemed

the turn in order to spare

He must

their life together, austere

panoply of pleasures

Fhey were, of course, both people

for

whom

at that

as she

and

iso-

moment.

the idea of survival


had

meaning

real

because ot the struggles ot the Bauhaus;

iniiiallv

then the horrible

Nazi Germany;

realities oi

after that,

in safer territory, the intense financial pressure at

unhappy departure from

subsequently, hallowing Joscts vicissitudes of old age

palpable

In

relief.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and

flict,

Anni's safe return

may

this

me

that breaking a date

in

the\-

were

Yale;

now

the

the storm afforded

them

be one of the reasons that Anni took par-

ticular delight in aborting plans entirely

told

even once

Black Mountain and,

because of bad weather. She once

was one of life's great pleasures, comparable

only to returning something to a department store. Dressed and ready to

go

New

for an outing to

phone

York, only to have a

because of inclement weather the meeting in the

Anni, rather than showing disappointment, looked

been given an unexpected

treat. In

Ulm, she wrote, with regard

my enormous

"To a

two days

my name

even

is

Of

scheduled half an hour awav,

my

can get

I

following

my

per told

me

was too bad that

trip

Press, the

pressman and

of our customers were not

all

men and

111

thoughts straight."

with Anni to Fox

Anni. Unlike the advertising

"The Bridgeport group,

Annie Alkers of N.Y.! Think

spelled wrongly, if

Josef,

bad. Everything they touch they do wrong-

feel

The day

it

course there were other factors as

had written to

speak about Quality there,

that

someone who had

like

of the letters she sent to josef in

to a lecture

are having."

earlier she

Weavers Guild, makes me ly,

be rescheduled,

pleasure m\' talk in Bridgeport was canceled because of

new snowstorm we

well;

one

suggesting that

call

cit)'

purchasing agents,

who

strip-

like

said that

they did not care what the machine could or could not do as long as they got what they wanted, she

worked

in

tandem with

the equipment.

"The

lady with the cane," the bindery foreman added, "really liked the shrink

wrap

too.

She figured out right away

same poetry and

the

how

it

lightness that demarcate her artwork.

with the ideals that Gropius had established ing art school he had opened in

had rendered

nil

machinery and

and

creativity to

be the

Indeed, for the

do

have a

aid,

common

and

voice,

And

in

keeping

Bauhaus, the pioneeryears earlier, she

fifty

art.

She had allowed

and technical

not the foe, of inspiration.

The

restraints

practical

were one.

spiritual

had died, the

at the

Weimar more than

the boundaries between craft

possibilities to

and the

does the corners."

had brought into the printing plant some of

in her person she

rest of

her

life,

even after Josef and

living Bauhausler kept the vision alive

last

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

all

the others

as her art will

forever.

Notes

1.

I

Ills

ir.msl.uion oi the sixth-century bc

Chinese philosopher a

handwritten note

the Josef and

This

and

Anil] are

in

quoted from

Anni's papers

all

troiii

translation

from

in

Nov.

a

pre-nicd student at

a

4.

this

information

in a

conversations with the in

preparation hir

artist

memo

19, 1998.

All letters are in

Anni Albers with Nicholas Fox Weber

1981.

1

he

Liveright.

|osel

//,

in the living

room

at

80S

Birchwood Drive, Orange, Connecticut.

ot

1930), p. 118. 5.

1974 and 1975

a

181.

and Fox

Bertrand Russell. The Conquest of

Huppinea (London: Horace

while the author was interviewing the

on tape

Camilla Lyons,

provided

at

subsequeni staiciiicnts by

author that took place

3.

Yale College as well as an art historian,

Anni Albers Foundation;

may bc her own German source. it

2.

is

.md .\mii

Albers Foundation archives and are i|uoied as they appear.

book devoted

to her work.

151


Anni Albers 1899-1994 Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi

182.

Anni Albers,

ca. 1908.

Anni Albers

left

us a

compact but

Albers rarely expressed regret

pure legacy that comprises not only

about the necessity of leaving

her artworks but also her writings

Germany

and other statements, which,

future in the United States;

together, provide a clear guideline

about design and

for thinking art.

An

artist,

teacher, for

designer, writer,

detached observer of industrial,

and

if

and

somewhat

political,

artistic

develop-

ments. Her curiosity was that of a true pioneer,

and her work

consistently reveals a deep respect for the universal truths

an uncertain

rather, she preferred to dwell

on

the consequent opportunities that

most of the century

she was an interested

in 1933 for

of the

came

to her

and Josef As they

explored Mexico and the American

Southwest, they were both deeply affected scape,

by the

by the

scale

of the land-

aesthetic marvels of

the indigenous art

and

architecture,

and, in Mexico, by the beauty

of the ancient culture that seemed to

grow

in the

ground

in the

past as well as a search for solutions

lorm of the tiny Pre-Columbian

only possible

artifacts that

Connecting

in the present.

craft to industry, uni-

Was

fying art with design, generously

sharing her learning with others, she

made few

own

claims about her

originality,

speaking instead

of rediscovery, re-invention.

they collected with a

shared passion. it

Albers's physical dis-

ability or the social

and

cultural

environment of her past that never quite allowed her to

move

freely

and express herself with complete independence? Under her elegance

and modesty, and despite the sure

15^

hand and voice

in her art

and


her writing, there lay an ambition for greater recognition that at

1899-1921

odds with her rechisive nature.

183.

Hans Farman (Fleischmann)

Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann 184. Lotte

hfe,

Here, an accoimt ot Albers's

at

arranged around the artists

Charlottenburg section oi Berlin

5

Lessingstrasse in the

words along with those oi people

on June

who knew

eldest of three children

her well or

studied her

art,

who

have

proves that her

legacy to us stands alone

and

is

12,

1899.

born

and Toni Ullstein Fleischmann

"[When

not only for

growing up] her mother's

historic value

to teach us art in

it

can continue

about the place oi

our dailv

lives.

to

Siegfried Fleischmann (1873-1963)

(1877-1946).

its

ca. 1920.

She was the

worthy of our consideration today, but also tor what

1930,

photographed by Josef Albers.

Anni Albers was born

was

she was family,

the Ullsteins of publishing fame,

seemed

slightly

her father's turer)

(a

more

brother,

commercial

to her,

furniture manufac-

aristocratic."' Albers's

Hans Farman (born

in

1909), who changed his name from Fleischmann when he moved to

the United States in 1936, notes that the

women

of the Ullstein

family were well educated, but

were expected to "get married on their

own

.

.

.

whereas the sons

inherited the [family] fortune."'

Hans's wife, Elizabeth (Betry), notes, "[Albers]

swam

against the

153

Benfey (nee Fleischmann),


185. Siegfried

Fleischmann, 1930,

photographed by Josef Albers.

186. ca.

Toni Ullstein Fleischmann,

1940.

Stream, she was rebellious and she

resented her mother.

.

.

beautifuL that the character of a

Anni had

.

person came out

some kind of artistic longings and leanings in her. Her family, in didn't feel the artistic her mind .

.

.

leanings as she did. "'Around 1912 the family

ment

moved

Kurfiirstendamm. Albers's

a photograph, for

than in

better

instance.

.

.

.

I

of my mother, ivhich I took under my arms

made a with

terrible [portrait]

my mother

to try to get to

Dresden, where Kokoschka lived,

to a large apart-

at 7 Meinekestrasse,

much

near the

and see

sister,

could learn.

if he

had classes where

And he had one

I

look at

and said, "Why do you paint?"

Lotte Benfey (1900-1987), recalled,

that

"We had

I was fifteen or sixteen so that was

eight or nine rooms.

There was the music room that was only used was

a

Opa

room

.

.

.

.

the smashing ansiver

There

for Anni's painting.

and antiques.

.

.

had

cent, her

Albers was an adoles-

mother arranged

have an

art tutor. Later,

for her

from

1916 to 1919, she studied painting

with Martin Brandenburg, an Impressionist painter. [In

my]

portraits that

early teens.

.

.

I saiv

[Oskar] Kokoschka

had drawn and I thought

154

.

.

the

they were

and that was

end of that.' In 1920 Albers attended the

Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied

.

loved to go to art museums."^

When to

.

[Siegfried Fleischmann]

furniture

He

for parties.

arts) in

Hamburg.

After two

months she was disappointed with the learning

program and sought

out other sorts of instruction.


1922-24

adventurous

Fortunately a leaflet came

way from there

the

my

Bauhaus [on which]

was a print by Feininger, a

something; that

it

cathedral,

that wasn't true at

ver)'

great

through some connections

body told

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

me

[that

experimental place. "

That looks more

what I

.

it] .

like

.

it,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;some-

Berliner

a seamstress

so this

is

a week, the

who was

used to

She

but was

Albers entered the mandatory

Vorkurs (preliminary course)

Bauhaus on April

studying with Cieorg first

going on fom all

at

21, 1922,

Muche

in the

semester and with Johannes

Itten in the second.

Well the Bauhaus today

like Klee

and

sides.

Kaiuinisky

And this

to find their kind ofgeneral

searching was very exciting. this

is

what

vacuum.

And

.

.

.

I called the "creative

"'

Ihe Bauhaus

leaflet that

attracted Albers to

Weimar had

been written by Walter Ciropius,

admitted on her second attempt.""

the

in a

They were starting

and laundress applied

at first,

was

was a great

weren't recognized as the g>-eat masters.

"

to the experimental school.

was rejected

It

there

I thought,

"In a rented room, with a bath

young

searchijig

there in 1^22

And people

way.

once

muddle and

new

the founder of this art

and design.

It

school of

stated that "any

person of good repute, without regard to age or sex,

education

is

whose prcNious

deemed adequate by

the Council of Masters, will be

admitted,

as far as

ca. 1923,

Lutia Moholy-Nag)'.

was a readymade

all.

Anni Albers,

phomgr.iphed by

was a new

tried."

available only

18-.

i)iteresting one, to

But when I got

spirit.

and I thought that was beautiful and also at that time,

and

which you went and were taught

space permits."'

is

thought of always as a school, a very

155


"

i88.

Georg Muche and members

weaving workshop

Weimar, extreme

ca. 1923.

at the

of the

Bauhaus,

Anni Albers

is

at the

But despite the school's apparent

workshop and there was already

commitment

somebody in there [JosefAlbers]

gender equality,

to

Gropius wrote to a

woman who

whom

with

right.

applied for admission in 1920, is

"It

not advisable, in our experience,

women work

that

craft areas

For

forth.

such

in the

this reason a

So

at the

textiles;

My

women.

We

are

fundamentally opposed to the education of

the weaving

bookbinding and

pottery also accept

women

as architects."'"

The entering students had enter a workshop

and

after

there.

completing the

Vorkurs, Albers reluctantly entered

Bauhaus which works particularly with

was not chance of any kind

offurther work

women's

formed

to

allow a second person because there

carpentry and so

as

section has been

heavy

I would have loved

be in that workshop but they didn't

to

workshop

in 1923.

beginning was far fivm

what I had hoped for:

my hands

fate

put

into

limp threads! Threads

to

build a future? But distinst turned into belief and I

the workshops

was on

Albers credited

my

Gunta

'"'

way. Stolzl

I thought I might try all weren't

for

quite suited for me. For instance, I

claiming that she had "almost an

didn't

want wall painting because

I didn't like climbing on ladders

and I

didn't

want metal workshop so hard and pointed.

because

it is

I didn

want woodworking where

you

't

had

there

to lift

was one

heavy beams,

left

and

that was a glass

most of her

early training,

animal feeling for

textiles."

who was down and Sometimes we sat

/ learned fi-om Gunta,

a great

teacher.

tried to do

together

it.

We

sat

and tried to

solve problems

of co}istruction." In the

weaving workshop,

Albers assisted in dyeing yarns and

made

her

first

wall hangings

and

yard fabrics. She and her fellow

156


students participated in the official

Bauhaus exhibition

first

Haus

with

Alberss

appeared in 1924,

met

first

by

Bauhaus

in

By

as part oi Gropius's

advanced rapidly

Bauhaus. In

Weimar, they were

to instructor

Umbo.

190.

had

that time Josef

from student

she wrote:

it,

Bauhaus, Dessau, 1919. photographed

Josef Albers at the

married.

drive to elicit public support for the

Albers

published writing

textiles.

first

189. Josef Albers in his studio at the

In 1925, three years after

in 1923,

furnishing the experimental

am Horn

1925-26

losct Albers

house what

it

to

needs today

functionalform.

.

.

.

Its

give the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

1923,

Master

goals are the

This

of things, suitable and a new type oj beauty.

new beauty

Today a thing

form tion,

is

is

is

not

style.

and when

it

.

when

beautifiil

in agreement with

has been

well-chosen materials."

.

in 1925.

"It

was

after their

work bore

.

its

its func-

made of

.

.

.

They

191.

.

wedding

.

traveled to

.

few years

that their art

the closest resemblance.

Each was responding

possibilities

to

new

of abstraction, to the

idea of playfulness with the figure-

ground

relationship, to the comforts

afforded by control. Right angles, solid expanses

of color, and

pure bands of black became part

of their new language.

"'~

Ihat same vear the Bauhaus

moved from

\*^cimar to

its

new

Modernist glass-walled structure

in

Dessau, designed by Gropius. But the aesthetic

harmony

ca. 1926,

Josef Albers, stained-glass window,

Berlin, 1927.

honeymoon.

in the

balcony

in

junior Bauhaus

to

Italy lor their

clear structure materials,

and

a

workshop

of the Vorkurs

Ullstein Printing

The Bauhaus attempts

on

photographed by Marianne Brandt.

at the school,

in the glass

Ann! and

of the Bauhaus building, Dessau,

that

Gropius imagined would flourish

157

Works, Templehof,


192. Josef Albers,

Anni Sommer

25, 1923.

Collage of two photographs,

mounted on cardboard, (11 "At

X 16

29.7 x 41.7

at the

Bauhaus proved

wall hangings were published in

to be an

the

elusive goal.

cm

Concerned

and

ivith form

ivith

German

and

journal Offset

in Tapis et Tissus, a portfolio

inches).

The Josef and Anni

Albers Foundation,

Bethany JAF: PH-423.

of objects surrounding that is, ivith design we will

the shape

us

have

to look

at the things

we have

selected

shifted

A

made. With the evidence of our

work

before us,

verdict.

Today

we cannot

it tells

escape

its

us ofseparate-

ofsegregation andfragmentation, I interpret rightly. if ness,

For here we find two

distinct

points of departure: the scientific

and

technological,

and

the artistic.

Too often these approaches arrive at separate results instead

of at a

all-inclusive form that

embodies

single,

the whole of our needs: the need

for the functioning of a thing the need for

and

an appearance that

responds to our sense

ofform."' In 1926 Albers began to

work on the double and jacquard looms. Color illustrations of her

by Sonia Delaunay.'^

In Dessau, the Bauhaus's focus

place

from

craft to

production.

most curious change took

when

the idea

of a practical

purpose, a purpose aside from the

purely artistic one, suggested itself to this

group of weavers. Such a

thought, ordinarily in the fore-

ground, had not occurred

having been the problems

and

of the material

of handling

it.

itself

This considera-

of usefulness brought

about a

profoundly difrerent conception. shift took

A

place from the free play

with forms

to

a logical building of

structures.'"

Women

students occupied

an ambiguous space "[In] the

at the

Bauhaus.

widening polarization

between industry and

158

them,

to

absorbed in

the discoveries of unlimited

ivays

tion

so deeply

craft

.

.

.


women latter.

were identified with the

industriahzation increased, the role

of the designer gained

and

attracted males.

lost

ground.

.

.

of the weavers

.

in status

Women

The ambivalence nowhere

is

.

.

.

observe

to

that in ancient myths from

parts of the world deity,

it

many

was a goddess, a

students asked Paul Klee to teach

who brought

the inven-

program

specifically geared

93 1,

when he

at

startling,

for today

of men than with weaving

it

.

perceiving the world. to the student

made

of human and natural creation are essentially one; that art

women.

order of things.

.

.

Later,

as one

of the weaver's

to the foreground

feminine

role in it

in our eyes."

and

tasks

moved

thus the

has become natural

proposed

the basis of

in the

.

It

aimed way of

work: that the wellsprings

have their roots

.

.

as the

what Klee himself

closer to the inclination

traditions established, embellishing

.

.

.

and science

selfsame

The process

Klee taught, while rationalistic,

was ultimately nonrarional.""

Although Albers revered Klee,

One of his my head that understand anything and

she later admitted, classes

was

I didn't

im

so far over

159

Atelier,

XI

'29,

1929.

Collage o{

six

photographs,

(11

29.7 x 41.7

cm

%. X i6/Âť inches).

The

Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,

Bethany JAF: PH-2.

form of a important

as

inculcating a specific

his

is

toward

resigned from the

process leading to

believed and

thought

a

Bauhaus. "Klee's repeated insistence

work was not

Josef Albers, Klee

Dessau

mounted on cardboard,

weaving, which he taught until

a process ofstructural organization thinking in terms ofstructure seems

developed

a class in design. Klee

of weaving to mankind. When we realize that weaving is primarily

tion

this

weaving workshop

that the ultimate

writing.""' It is interesting

female

193.

In 1927 the

1

better expressed than in their

own

1927-32

As mechanization and


194. 195.

Dessau,

197.

and

196. Josef

and Anni

ca. 1925.

Albers,

had

to leave.

Klee

and his

Also in 1927 Albers designed

Anni and Josef Albers,

Oberstdorf, Germany, 1927-28.

198. Josef ca. 1935.

and Anni Albers,

I was not yet ready for thinking."

of [travel] when we were still at the Bauhaus and married not for a

very long time. This

was wonderful

to

be

the Theater Cafe Altes in Dessau

away from the parents' choice vacations when ive always went of

and the curtain

to

Bavaria

wall coverings

and curtains

for

for a theater in

to

winter in one of the

Oppeln. These projects required

wettest corners, Oberstdorf.

new

thought [instead] sun

approaches. It is really interesting to

trate like trate

so

an

concen-

architect has to concen-

on the functioning ofa house,

I enjoyed concentrating on what

so on.

we went .

.

it

.

It

And I

and sea and 1 found a banana boat and to Tenerife, to the Canaries.

was such a small boat and

took three weeks to go there. It

[a] specific material demanded. I

was quite shaky and there were only

developed a

twelve people.'''

materials,

of wall-covering ivhich at the time I did series

it

was nonexistent

to

make them

really.

And I tried

so that they

were

Despite Albers's dislike of

Oberstdorf she and Josef did vacation there in the winter of

partly even light-refecting, that they

1927-28. Albers's

could be brushed

recalled, "I

be fixed straight

wall

IV ith out

shapes. So

a

off,

that they could

and easily on

the

pulling into different

specific task sets

you

to

—you took

house.

to the barn.

/ was always the one

160

who thought

for four

every year

your technique."

a trip to the C'anary Islands.

the governess

The

go climbing at

Lotte,

Oberstdorf in Bavaria. ...

was what you did

a very interesting way of dealing with your choice of material, with In July 1927 the Alberses took

sister,

went twenty-lour times

and

.

home and

.

cook and

lived in a peasant

peasants .

the

It

weeks

moved out

Anni

didn't like to

she would stay

paint and read.""'


In 1928

Bauhaus

Gropius

the

left

to return to private

architectural practice,

and Hannes

Meyer, a Swiss architect, took

Breuer,

Deutschen CiewerLschaftsbundes-

(rear center)

Moholy-Nagy

of Gropius's departure.

moved

house vacated

I

wake

he

the

Hannes Meyer was building a

um

there

Moholy-Nagys

make a able.

Klees and the Kandinskys. Albers

in the

and from September the following year the

fall

of

1

93

1

to

December

and again

in

she replaced Stolzl

as acting director.

In the 1929

recess,

.

and

in the auditori-

echo.

.

.

.

And he

if I could think of a ivay

textile

that

would be

suit-

The usual solution at that time '20s

the walls.

was that you put

The

little fibers

I'eli'et

And of course

was

be at all practical in a room

to

if the velvet

used by hundreds of people so very often

it

would have

to

be a dark

Otherwise you could see all the

marks offingerprints and so on. And I had an idea that if I .

the Alberses traveled to Avignon,

Geneva, in

Biarritz,

August

and

Paris

and

to Barcelona for the

on

absorbed the

sound.

color.

summer

.

oj subduing this echo, if we could

and became neighbors of the

became an assistant in the weaving workshop under Stolzl's direction,

.

was an

me

asked

into the master's

b\'

architect.

large school

resigned in the

Meyer

schule in Bernau, for which

was the

and Lucia and Laszlo

Alberses

199. Josef

Herbert Bayer, Marcel

his place.

made a

.

.

was made

surface that

out of a kind of cellophane

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and

International l^xposition, where

cellophane just was coming in

I.udwig Mies van der Rohe

new material we had been in Florence, Italy, and I had bought a little crocheted cap made oj this

and

Lilly

German

as a

Reich had designed the exhibits.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Also in 1929 Albers designed a wall-covering material for the

and Anni Albers

auditoriimi of the Allgemeinen

new

161

ca. 1925.

with Bauhaus friends,


zoo. Walter Gropius, 1930, photographed

by Josef Albers.

material.

used

And I unraveled it and the first attempt

it for

auditorium of the Allgemeinen

Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundesschule, Bernau, Germany, 1929 (see

showing the

cat. no. 127),

reverse side with label

indicating the reflection of light as

an

.

and

.

ofabsorption I put

this velvet quality 201. Wall-covering material for the

in

.

interesting construction into

the back

of this

tnaterial.

on the surface a

and in

quality

So

it

had

light-reflecting

the back the sound-

And this I don't think but that

went into production.

it

was made on machines,

was made in workshops made yard goods. And it was

it

used for worked.

this .

.

auditorium.

And it

.And the Zeiss

Ikon

Works in Germany made a kind of analysis

of how the

surface worked.

.

shown

So

this

was

Moderner

an exhibition

Modern textiles. During the summer she traveled with Josef to of

San Sebastian, Spain, and

to the

and Lake Maggiore

in Italy.

Their

mented

in Josefs

travels are

docu-

photographs. In

August 1930 Mies van der Rohe

Meyer as director of the Bauhaus, and appointed Reich as replaced

the

new

director of the weaving

workshop.

At the important Deutsche

light-reflecting .

.

The same

in Ausstellung

Bildivirkereien,

Tyrol, Ascona,

absorbing quality.

analyzed by Zeiss Ikon, Berlin.

auditorium in 1930.

year two of Albers's works were

Bauausstellung

(German building

quite an intriguing kind of textile

exhibition) in Berlin in July 1931,

engineering.'"

Albers's

Albers later that

it

really

.said

ot this material

Stadt Berlin Prize.

was something I am

happy

to sign

with

for that was a completely

my name, new

approach.''

Bauhaus diploma

In

lor the wall-

covering material for the Bernau

October 1932 the Bauhaus

was forced

power

in the local

and cut funding

Dessau

after

came

government

to the school.

Mies van der Rohe reopened the school as a private institution in Berlin,

162

to close in

the National Socialist party to

Albers was awarded her

work was awarded the

and

for the next six


Germans To Tench Art Near Here

^

M-hool mere until HtUor't poUclri oaujcO lD«d lb« IacuUt of BUok UouniAln coUcfa <l«p»rUnmi In Uie coll«fe

t

Germans On Faculty At Black Mountain School And Frau

Josef

Named

»u. which wma world ramou*

Albers

Art There

brought to Black MountAlct coltLe ODlj c«U»g« In tttc Uoltcd

u'rro

with VtOStmov JoMf and ten. ol DeoMU. GcrmADr

u

t

wu

toioe Tbe Kboot ol art close bK*ua« ot the natloual CAtlODbl policies ol the

Instructors In

Pnu

Allojtrue-

l«S«-

Statu uQdcr direct faculty cootroi, by lUo New York Muaeum of- Art.

• ait dcpftftmcnt hai been csUblUlitcl at Bl*ek Mountain tots.

col-

let:* at

Blue RItJgo ntMt hfw,

pTOlcasor and Frsu Alb«r* > ver; until rrctntly mcinb«n ol Ibe tacultT Of the Baubaua adiool In Dt*-

months

— during which time moved

Alberses

to Berlin,

the

they hved in an apartment at

202. Asheville Citizen,

1933-36

where

As the Bauhaus was forced close,

203. Josef

Black Mountain College,

of their

28 Sensenburgerallee in the suburb

of Charlottenburg

from

it

a disused factory

near Asheville, North Carolina,

building in

was searching

the Steiglitz neighborhood. April

1933, the

II,

On

school was again

forced to close after the National

gained control of the

Socialists

national government. Mies van

der

Rohe protested and obtained

official

consent to reopen the

school four months

a new, small, experimental college,

operated

later,

but the

its

art

someone

for

program. Philip Johnson

M.M. Warburg,

and Edward

Museum

Modern Art

of

both

new

fledgling curators at the

New

in

through

York, learned of

this

Theodore (Ted)

Dreier,

one

of the

schools founders. Johnson and

Warburg had both

visited the

conditions that accompanied this

Dessau Bauhaus, and Johnson was

permission were so onerous that

in Berlin in the

summer

of 1933.

the decision of the faculty to close

very great

who now has a name, then we knew as a

the school officially and

somewhat

spoiled, ifiteresting student

on August

"Anni

at

10, 1933,

he announced

finally.

age thirty-four and

her husband at age forr\'-five were sucidenly without jobs and had little

work

hope in

of

continuing their

an atmosphere rapidly

becomin"

hostile to abstract art."'"

Philip Johnson,

from Harvard. in Berlin

.

.

.

.

He

.

.

.

was

and I had made

.

.

experiments with different materials, strawlike materials. visiting Lilly Reich,

.

.

.

who

He was .

.

.

was

of the weaving Philip was there

practically in charge

workshop.

.

.

.

[at Lilly Reich's apartment],

5,

and he

was shown materials, and somehow

163

and Anni Albers on the

Uving quarters

Campus ca. 1937.

head

to

December

1933.

to

of Black

at

steps

the Blue Ridge

Mountain College,


204-

Anni

Albers, Black

Mountain

College, ca. 1935.

205. Josef Albers

in the

doorway I met him at

Reich's,

on the deck outside

the dining hall at the Lake

Eden campus

of Black Mountain College,

206. Student dance

ca. 1935.

on the verandah

of Robert E. Lee Hall

at

the Blue Ridge

and I said,

Would you be to

photographed by Josef Albers.

us!'

and they

big,

do with practical

all

had

"

and and so them and

with various transparencies

"Now who made them?

on.

"

And in he

said,

that.

America?

the door

And it

United

tickets.

to

was just the high time For instance, the

closed.

kind of background

I

had the wrong

in Hitler's

and so on and we said,

States.

Johnson

Johnson

Warburg

recalls, "It

was the

about Black Mountain and the

to

It

come I

"Well,

America

to

said, 'Let's get

to

work.

them

want .

.

.

over.'

seemed the most natural thing

in the world. all

the

I

think he [Eddie]

money

couple arrived in the S.S. Europa 1933. Josef

Bauhaus was

164

left,

come

17, 1933,

Black Mountain College, to come

paid

when he like to

August

"

for us to leave.

ideas

"...

"Would you

to

them, on behalf of the trustees of

So

And I said, "No, they are mine." And he said, "But she never me about

come

to

idea that the AJberses might

I saw

these at Lilly Reich's.

told

after six weeks

combination of Eddie knowing

cleaned in some specific way,

said,

was

it

asking us

agreed to fund their steamship

ideas, strawlike

looked at

letter

wrote to the Alberses, inviting

to the

to

material that could be brushed off or

And he

On

I would love

to show you also some of my things. And he came in the afternoon and I put out my wall hangings. They

were all

we got a

this neivly founded college."'

interested in corning

a cup of tea with

campus of Black Mountain College, ca. 1937,

of course. "And

Lilly

"Oh, you are here.

late.

New

The

York on

on November

24,

wrote to Kandinsky,

"We were met by colleagues.

out."'"

We

four Bauhaus

were twelve hours

Four hotels had been booked.


Four journalists were waiting to

known

interview us. First niglit dinner at

of her designs,

the Dreiers'

.

.

.

with Miss Katherine

Dreier. Very lively.

.

.

.

Museum

of Modern Art very good. Brancusi

not only tor the uniqueness

which

directly 'into the material' but for

her experiments with materials.' is

not enough that

It

should

textiles

exhibition very beautiful. Arranged

be

Duchamp who we met on this occasion. A wonderful person.""

almost fearfully

at the

lavish tapestries

of the hotel lounge.

by

Albers spoke to the press on

behaU

who was not conHe says that i>i

o{ Josef,

versant in English: this

country at

last

free atmosphere.

.

he will find a

.

He says

.

and that

that

no longer possible

is

in Germany. There a professor

must

no regard Bauhaus but

and

at the

related to the use

same time

of the

textile.'""

Speaking of the Alberses' Black Mountain, I^arbara

arrival at

(Bobbie) Dreier, wife of led

New

Sim reported:

York

and vivacious, Frau

more

like a

like the leader of a

movement,

and speaks English slowly and solemnly

much

recalls that Josef

dinner with

student

of

create patterns close to the

materials

ofgovernment."

"Tall, slim

poem

we

We

are not hostile to industry

forwarding the

Albers looks

than

for the fitness of that

is

The

their

designs off the paper, nicln't with

ideal

thinks

German

somewhat

'Most commercial houses take

teach only the art that the govern-

ment

she exclaimed, looking

design for a given place.

art must have freedom in which to

grow,

pretty!',

in

"had

I^reier,

hanksgiving

1

my husband s

parents

Brooklyn Heights the night

before.

1

hey put him on the train

with his nice wife and

.

.

.

they

as a child recites a

'by heart.'

.

.

.

Today she

207 and 208. Anni Albers lilack

woven

are

is

165

Mountain College,

in the cornficlcls, ca. 1937.


,

Âť

209.

Anni Albers with Ted and Bobbie

Dreier en route to Florida and Cuba, 1935.

>

\,r>

came.

We settled

V

them

and they

in

adjusted to the completely different

that they

life

found there

in this

.

we were not knowing .

.

.

.

.

a big festival at the

had only fifty

.

.

.

was

there

be thankfitl for

was

it

and

really

.

.

a

.

a day

to

ive celebrated it."

and Josef was

life,

was

interesting to see

sor

166

and

fibers.

They

reflected

Anni

Albers's

modest

appearance and blend into the

Alberses rapidly

part of the Black

became

Mountain College

community. "Black Mountain

"Drawing upon

wunderbar" Albers wrote

the early

of 'playful pro-

felt

rather than purely

primarily black, white, and natural

The

a profes-

Bauhaus model, Albers promoted ductivity' She

they

background.'""*

was a professor.'"

method

States,

for their limited range of colors,

in

and interesting to see a professor hammer in his hand. This

teaching

on the thread

objects that should be

a new

with a

didn't exist in Europe. There

throughout the United

aesthetic that 'textiles are serving

appointed Professor of Art. It

the Art

Institute of Chicago, the Black

coloristic or textural effects

Albers was appointed Assistant Professor of Art,

Academy of Art, and

at

Cranbrook

were recognized for their emphasis

great event that was Thanksgiving.

Arid we thought

.

distinctive textiles. Exhibited

college, ivhich

or sixty students,

.

Mountain program produced

very

And so we got there and

after three or four days

.

that serves functional or

the Institute of Design,

Chancellery in Germany burned and everything was in ruins and

much.

work

were similar weaving programs

I think, ip33. Just when the

then

to

aesthetic ends."'" "Although there

November 24

arrived on

unencumbered

experimentation with materials

great big Robert E. Lee Hall.""

We

progress from

^

that srudents

a

a letter

dated December

in

3,

1933,


carbon copies oi which were received by several of their friends in

Barely a year

in

Cuba. Bobbie Dreier

to

go

to

.

.

.

.

.

.

to put

all

for

whv

a sort

way

to

a boat.

of a

Key West

And

We

went.

"'

"When

they

can take

the car over and everything.'

we

And

in 1934

the Alberses drove through Florida

with their

new good

friends

an

altitude

though

it

occurred to

Anni, that the two couples might venture toward the source of

[Pre-Columbian]

art

and

Mexico the following

travel to

year.""

summer of 1935 the made the first of fourteen

In the

Alberses visits to

.

.

.

we arrived

it is so

climate.

no

far south

cool,

And a

a

it is

truly refreshing

country for

art, like

wonderfd ancient

other,

barely yet discovered

new

at

is

meters, so even

of 2,^00

marvelously

art, frescoes:

Rivera, Orosco

you

[sic],

.

.

.

art,

much know

a>ul

surely

and others,

then

Merida, the talented abstract painter, Crespo

art

is

the most important

thing in this country. Imagine that.

Theodore and Barbara Dreier en route to Havatia,

in Mexico.

mountains. Mexico City [to

you come,

don't

goodness sake?

mer here

convertible.

here in our car after traveling for

had

the

them on

said, 'Well,

A

wotulerful sion-

seven days, at times through high

them down

We

We have had a

recalls,

Christmas vacation [and then] we took them

Dreiers

in the

had invited

Cuba, and we

offered to drive Florida].

and Bobbie

December

later, in

was invited to lecture

"Clarita Porcet

them

210 and

Albers, 1955.

secondhand Model

Germany.'

1934, Josef

Oaxaca and Acapulco with Ted

I

hey became collectors of

I're-C'olumbian

art:

During our nmny jourteen in

duration

all,

trips to

Mexico

some of three months'

and dating back

as far

— we had gathered

as 19^6 [sic]

and

'

there material covering

here

some

Mexico, traveling to

167

ill. Boliliic I^rcicr

.md Anni


212.

Anni Albers and her

father, Siegfried

Fleischmann, Mexico, 1937, photographed

of the

diverse early cultures

by Josef Albers.

pieces

came

to us

prehistoric sites offering

them

on our

fom

to us

visits to

boys

little

were also held up for

and goats

sale.

the fragments

As we

ofpottery,

which included subtly formed heads and,

alas, usually

we could not our hands

1937-38 In 1937 the Alberses put

broken figurines,

believe that here in

On March Walter and

We showed our late

little

Ise

17 ot that year

New

Albers went to

York and met

Gropius

as they

arrived in the United States. (Walter

Gropius was taking up an appoint-

ment

at the

of Design

at

Graduate School

Harvard University,

Cambridge, Massachusetts.)

ivere century-old

when plowing

Black Mountain College.

art at

Pre-Columbian pieces found by the peasants

their fields.

treasures to the

George Valliant, the authority

Albers's parents arrived in

Veracruz, Mexico, on June

on

their third

Mexican

trip)

in

excavating at the time on the outskirts

Toni Fleischmann wrote

City,

and he confirmed

their authenticity. Yes, here

a country whose earth such

art.'''

still

was yielded

18,

meeting the Alberses (who were

on Mexican archaeology, who was

ofMexico

Mayan

together an exhibition of

through the car

ivindow, just as turkeys

examined

of this

Our first small

ancient country.

Mexico City the following

diary,

"Now

I

am

day.

in her

eagerly looking

forward to Anke [Anni] and Jup [Josef].

Tomorrow

at last

we

will

see each other again after almost

month Ann is

four years!"" For the next the Alberses introduced

parents to the major sites in

Mexico: "June

23.

We

Tenayuca Pyramid.

.

.

drive to the .

Juppi and

Pap again buy small heads of gods,

which

168

are

still

being discovered,


and rhey cost only

few cents.""

a

return to Berlin via Albers's

will see

[Toni's

York,

mother wrote: "Farewells

Who

quite difficult.

we

New

knows when

each other again. Juppis

nickname

for

Anni and

213. Aiini Albc-rs .uui lu-r p.nx'nis,

1939 Albers became a United States

After the Fleischmanns departed to

citizen

on May

Josef did likewise In

June they traveled

to

College

set

showed

us.""'

Josef wrote to Bayer,

Bayer assemble material for

there, unless a

the exhibition Bauhaus 1919-1928

intervenes."''

Museum

New York.

were included

of Modern Art

Albers's

weavings

in the exhibition,

about our

and

I

two years

article,

"Work with

was published

Mountain College, in

November.'"

Material,"

in the leaflet

"Black

Bulletin 5"

meet

to

moving

European explosion

Toni Fleischmann I

wrote a diary

first trip to

Mexico 1

would

country again. Now,

"The Weaving Workshop"

the

are

plan to 3

never imaiiined that

see that

to the

who

reported, "In 1937

and she contributed the essay exhibition catalogue.' Another

"We

go to Mexico about June Anni's parents,

in

Germany,

out for Mexico once more.

helped the Gropiuses and Herbert

at the

Mexico

Tlalpan. Albers's

in

about everything, and marvelous

The following year Albers

12.

again for Josef to teach at Gobers

parents, forced to Hee

the things the)'

b\' loset

on December

Josef] were touching, so concerned

all

Teotihu.ican, Mexico, 1937, photograjihcd

and

17, 1939,

later to the day,

we

begin

same journey on the same

boat, the 'Orinoco,

but under

totally different circumstances.

At that time

was

it

children again

it

is

a

native land,

a trip to see

our

and through them

to see a distant

Today

and

Siegfried .wid loni Hleischm,)nn,

lovely country.

departure from our

which we must

leave

forever."" Albers wrote of the

169

Albers.


214 and

215.

Anni Albers

at the

loom and

with a student, Black Mountain College, ca. 1937.

trip to

Our

Mexico

to

was fine.

trip

meet her parents: .

.

.

1940-49

We have

In the 1940s Albers began to

pyramid, one market, one fresco,

make small-scale weavings, which she mounted on linen bases and

and last

framed.

seen all ready [sic] quite

a

lot;

one

had our first party; and Americans

night

with painters

/ developed there [at Black

and all of it a little crazy. Rivera who was supposed to come was not there, naturally. We expect

Mountain

my family sometime

Bauhaus was meant

.

and plan Cruz

to drive

[sic] to

meet

.

.

next iveek

down

to Vera

them!''

College] gradually these

what I call Which was

"

"pictorial weavings. really

not what the to do.

.

.

Gropius never quite forgave

I went into the art

side.

.

.

.

the one thing that gradually

me a

little

It ivas [a>i]

materials

more known.

.

.

.

me

that

It tvas

made

.

inventive use of new

and constructions that had many centuries.

not been used in

.

.

[Josef] wasn't terribly interested in

But he thought that

textiles.

it

was nice that I did something.^'

Her weavings were exhibited widely in the 1940s, and she

was

in

demand

lecturer,

and

as a teacher, a

a writer

during

time." In an article that tic

this

drew caus-

responses from traditional

handweavers, Albers stated that

handweaving should he seen

170

.


as

more than

romantic attempt

'a

perdu

to recall a 'temps

":

If

conceived as a preparatory step

to

machine production the work will

be more than the revival of a

lost

and will take responsible part a new development^

skill

in

In the spring ok 1941 the

Many

Massachusetts.

were

sold.

One

of the pieces

reviewer exclaimed:

"Modern times have produced a number of new and sometimes strange things. But

now

'til

we'd

never heard of utilizing electricians' supplies,

bathroom

fixtures,

plumbers" accessories, and

a

hard-

Aiberses went to Harvard, where

ware merchants stock to make

Josef taught at the Ciraduate

jewelry!

"Maybe

School of Design.

On May

5

of that year an

its

another of those

on

things brought

what we have.

had made with

proving 'smart.' ...

a student, Alex

.

.

.

conserving

b\'

And

exhibition of jewelry that Albers

It

.

.

.

it's

comes from

Reed, from curtain rings, hairpins,

the hands of Anni Albers, exponent

paper

of Art

clips, bottle caps, glass

in the

Black Mountain

drawer knobs, clay insulators, metal

School

washers, and other household items,

a fertile imagination

opened

main

New

at

the Willard Ciallery in

Kuh

Gallery,

of North Carolina

requisite for

"One

York. The exhibition traveled

to the Katherine

[sic]

pieces

.

.

.

of the

was

.

.

.

seems to be the

its

creation.

.

.

.

most interesting

a plaque

formed by

Chicago; the Addison Gallery of

using a perforated sink strainer at

American

the

Art, Andover,

end

of a

Massachusetts; the Fitchburg Art

and hanging

Center, Fitchburg, Massachusetts;

clips

and the College,

Museum

ot Art,

Northampton,

in

a fringe

of paper

from the lower edge of

The

Smith

shower curtain chain

it!""

jewelry was included

Modern Handmade Jewelry, an

exhibition organized by the

171

216

and

217.

Anni Albers,

ca. 1937,

photographed by Josef Albers.


2i8. Installation

Anni Albers

The Museum of Modern

New

Museum

view of

Textiles,

of Modern Art

Art,

fifteen other

museums

New

in

York and shown there and

Germany

in 1942. After the war,

however, they returned to Mexico,

at

across the

taking an extended sabbatical

York, 1949.

country beginning in 1946. Albers

wrote to the exhibitions organizer, Jane Sabersky, from

New

Mexico:

Of course you can keep our necklaces for further exhibitions. Glad

to

We found the perfect place to rent and quick, with marvelous food too. We will stay here until spring and then continue learn

into

it is

a

success.

from October 1946 to November 1947 and traveling there via Canada, the Midwest, California, Texas,

Philip

Johnson

She recuperated

in the pictorial

who

for the Rockefeller

in

position

the unusual combination of cotton chenille with white plastic

copper a

foil to

and

create a curtain with

calm appearance during the day

that transformed into a sparkling

Alberses traveled

less

between 1940 and 1945, possibly because they could no longer go to

Mexico

172

after

it

allied itself

with

and

falter,

/.

Josef,

October 1948, resigned from that

on March

14, 1949.

At the

end of the semester the Alberses

left

Black Mountain College for the

last

time and traveled to Mexico City,

where Josef taught

at the University

of Mexico. In August they moved to

New

York.

Edgar Kaufmann,

surface at night.

The

weaving La Luz

reluctantly agreed to be rector

on East Fifty-second York. Albers chose

New

La Luz,

Utopia of Black Mountain

College began to

from Albers

New

in

Mexico, and celebrated her recovery

guest house Street in

Mexico. In El Paso,

weeks and underwent surgery.

The

commissioned drapery material

New

Albers was hospitalized for several

Old Mexico.''"

Around 1944

and

Jr.,

director

of the Department of Industrial

Design

at the

Museum

of

Modern


Art

New

in

York, had

come

Black Mountain College lecture

you

.

1948 to

in

Summer And he saw some of my And he said, "Wouldn't

on design

Institute. things.

textures, small expermiental textile

to

.

at the

.

Art?"

.

.

And

.

it

turned out the museum was ready

to

do that

textile

.

.

.

and I was the only had ever shown.'

person they

Albers met with Philip

Johnson

at

Johnson

museum

the

"As far as

recalls,

interest in textiles

[Albers].

H. of

And

I

all

of the

the

arts.

out

textiles.'

said,

.

.

Anni

that

October

30, 1949,

presentation of the

showed mainly

me.

And that

rials that usually

was using mate-

were not used for

I used synthetics

textiles.

.

.

.

And also

and plastic had the

I

of making materials that are

usually not existent, that

ones.

.

.

Of

""'

.

I

made

is,

partitions

six or eight differ-

Albers's invoK'ement,

Johnson remembers: wasn't a person to

Textiles,

was the

also things

ent transparencies.'"

plugged the

Alhers

way

exhibition.

in rooms, rather transparent

total picture of

I

[It]

idea

which was held from September to

.

'You cannot leave

... So

exhibition,

.

my

that were at one time ofgreat inter-

her

idea of doing a textile show."

The

.

materials.

.

in the

/ was very happy with the

had an

Museum

Art] seriously

he wanted ... a I

was

it

I

1949.

took Alfred [Alfred

Barr, director

Modern

14,

museums

[Johnson] took on

est to

to discuss

on January

the exhibition

the exhibition trav-

United States and Canada.

show your things at the

like to

Museum ofModern

samples, yard materials, pictorial

From 1950-53

n

P.

m

R.

And shed

do

"I felt

she

a lot of

always need help

that regard.

Hrst

work of a sinshown at

gle textile artist to be

the

museum.

It

Anni

Albers, 1935,

photographed by Josef Albers.

weavings, and hanging screens.

eled to twent)'-six

219.

included studies of

173


220 and

221.

Anni Albcrs

at

her loom,

observed in 1995:

1950-59

1943-

"It

was ironic

chairman of the Department of

way that Harvard was giving more recognition as a creative

Design of Yale University and the

artist

In 1950 Josef was appointed

moved

Alberses

New

to

a

Haven,

I

Connecticut. At their home, at 8

North Forest

Responding

from Gropius

first

I

think he could have been."

Albers continued her experi-

ments with

time.

textiles for

production,

and worked with the manufacturer

commission

for his

candor,

don't think Josef was entirely

And

Circle, Albers

to a

all

sympathetic to her concerns.

played the role of housewife as well as artist for the

than Yale. ... In

in

her

Harvard Law

Knoll on the realization of her

The

School building, she created

designs as yard materials.

bedspreads and partitions for the

majority of her pictorial weavings (twenty-four of the thirty-six

dormitories.

One of the

was a

in quite a great quantity. It

and white one, with jute. Gropius had the idea that it

black

.

.

.

to

.

decade, and she taught at art

this .

schools across the United States. / was often asked

.

should be very masculine.

had

known works) were made during

materials was done

be heavy

.

.

.

.

.

.

and have

here,

at

Yale, to

They

give a few seminars to the architec-

this

tural students.

And what intrigued

strong structure so that you didn't see

me

immediately, "Oh, he didn't ivipe his

think something should be reversed

feet,

and here

Frank from I

like to be

is

a

cigarette hole from

last year still."

.

.

.

So

on the practical side."'

Charles Sawyer,

Dean

of the

Yale School of Art at the time.

174

in regard to teaching

in teaching. ture,

We

was that I

always, in architec-

or ivhatever you do,

you

start

and

try to

from what

there

explain

While I was trying

it.

is

today

to set


m ." i

ikjM-

a

task,

put the students on absolute Nothing

zero, in the desert, in Peru. is there.

have

to

What

is

the first thing you

think of? And build up?

And maybe, for instance,

of the students

.

.

is

.

.

like

it like this,

the brick,

.

like this,

you know?"

During the

her Hrst svna"c)gue

com-

"The article

textiles for industr)',

in Perspecta, a journal

Architecture, in 1957.' 0>i Designing, a compilation of Albers's writings,

1950s, the AJberses

Press in

was published by Pellango

New Haven

in 1959.

Also in 1959 the exhibition

returned several times to Latin

America, traveling to Mexico and

Anni Albers,

Cuba

presented by the Massachusetts

in 1952

and

to Peru

Chile in 1953 and 1956.

and

In 1954

they traveled to Hawaii, where

Institute

Pictorial Weavings

was

of Technolog)', Cambridge,

Massachusetts, before

it

traveled

Josef taught at the University of

to the

Honolulu and Albers had an exhi-

Technology, Pittsburgh; Baltimore

Museum

bition of her weavings at the Ht)n()lulu

Also

Academy

in 1954 Albers

Josef to

Art

ol Arts.

accompanied

Ulm, Germany, where he

gave a course

Hochschule

in

design at the

Carnegie Institute of

of Art; Yale University

Ciallery,

New

Haven,

Connecticut; and Contemporary Arts

Museum, Houston.

new

Kir Gestaltung.

175

at 8

in

North Forest

Haven, Connccticiu.

Mexico,

by Albers based on her work

appeared

New

and Anni Albers

workroom

223. Joset

Pliable Plane: Textiles

published by the Yale School of

a

and we build but how we arrive at

done

Temple Emanu-El

mission, were installed.

designing

.

also the idea of not being told

brick

in Dallas,

Anni's

in Architecture," a lengthy

You gradually develop something,

inventions, as you go along.

And some

panels for

something

far fishing, or something for the roof.

222. Josef

In January 1957 Albers's ark

and Anni Albers, Monte

1952.

Circle,

ca. 1955.

Alb.in,


224- Josef Circle,

and Anni Albers

New

at 8

North Forest

1960-69

Haven, Connecticut, 1968,

photographed by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

a

In 1961 Albers received a second

was hanging around,

useless wife,

head of the work-

until June Wayne,

me

synagogue commission, for ark

shop, asked

panels for Congregation B'nai

myself I found that in

Israel,

Woonsocket, Rhode

A to

Island.

commission for a work that

is

the image

is

a most gratifying one.

though any ivork we do to relate ourselves to

is

For,

an attempt

a source ofspecial satisfaction

it is

my first print,

suspected."'

"Now, there

is

nothing of the technique.

They supplied the technicians!' Albers was invited back to

Tamarind

toward something we hold

produced Line Involvements,

as a fellow in

That same year the American of Architects recognized

the significance of Albers's

work

AIAs Craftsmanship

her with the

Medal.

.

.

made with a craft; when is

considered

Although she would continue

threads,

art.

.

.

.

.

was asked

to

work

Tamarind Littwgraphic

Workshop in Los Angeles where

176

of work. As a

comes more

as

result,

easily

lotiged-for pat I,

me

The multiplication and exactness of ofprintmaking allow

for broader exhibition

.

it's

Prints gave

.

almost by chance, to printmaking.

when

considered

a greater freedom ofpresentation.

the process

My great breakaivay came

it's

on paper,

it's

work at her loom for a few more years, in 1963 Albers turned, to

at the

a

Once having discovered this new freedom, I was never able to let go. I find that, when the work .

within their profession and honored

my husband

1964 and

portfolio of seven lithographs.

reverence!"

Institute

some"

able to participate in a task directed in

made

thing open, interesting to follow.

be

to

medium

I began to think, after I

And I knew

something

meaningful in a general sense,

this

of threads could project

a freedom I never

be part of a building devoted to

ivorship

to try lithography

and oiunership

recognition

and happily,

on the

the

shoulder.''^


Albers had been commissioned to write an entry

weaving

for a

on hand-

new

In 1970,

edition of the

Encyclopedia BritdHnicn pubHshcd in 1963, first

and

this

on

"textile

fundamentals

and methods" published by Wesleyan University Press

Prayers, a

orative tapestry

the Jewish

in 1965.

in

commem-

New

um

to

produce a scriptural

which would bring texts.

.

.

.

to

for

York.

medi-

effect

mind sacred

These paneb are

on rigid backgrounds effect

uses his

to

of commemorative

New

/ could not stand the idea aiiytnore

long

the yarns

mounted

produce the

and looms.

took too

It

and it always produced just one .

.

way. It

all the

I just outgrew

.

it

some

in

annoyed me and I can't do

anymore.

.

.

.

And then

boms and all the

An

/ used the threads themselves as

a sculptor or painter

808 Birchwood Drive in

to

altogether in favor of printmaking.

piece.

commissioned

Museum

New

the Alberses

Orange, about ten miles from

ofall

The following year she

completed Six

moved

when

Haven, Albers gave up weaving

became the

chapter of 0>i Weaving, her

treatise

225. Josef Albers at 8

1970-94

it

away

I gave yarns.

''

exhibition of Albers's

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; her major show Europe â&#x20AC;&#x201D; was shown

work

first

in

at the

Kunstmuseum at

in l^iisseldorf

and

the Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin,

in 1975.

'"

She continued her experi-

stelae.

ments

in

printmaking, working

with Ken lyler

from Tamarind) G.E.L. at

in

(whom at

she

knew

Gemini

Los Angeles and

Tyler Graphics in

later

New York,

and extending her techniques into screenprinting

During

and etching.

these years, until 1994,

she was honored with degrees and

177

North Forest

C'ircic,

Haven, Connecticur, 1968,

photographed by Henri Cartier-Brcsson.


226. Maximillian Schell

and Anni Albers,

Yale University Art Gallery,

New

awards from numerous institutions, including honorary doctorates in

Haven, Connecticut, 1978. fine arts

227.

Anni Albers and her

Hans Farman, and on

sister,

brotlier,

Lotte BenFey,

Albers's eighty-fifth birthday,

Bethany, Connecticut, 1984.

from the Maryland

histitute College

in 1976;

of Hartford

and the University

in 1979;

and an

In

March

1976, just after

New

Haven, Connecticut,

and Albers began

to

Gold Medal in New York. She responded: As to name calling, '

experimenter. In 1982, at a meeting of the

in 1973.

his eighty-eighth birthday, Josef

died in

with the American Craft Council

instead of visionary, I suggest

honorary doctorate of law from York University, Toronto,

to Albers as

a "visionary" as he presented her

of Art, Baltimore,

in 1972; the Philadelphia College

of Art

In 1981, the textile artist Jack

Lenor Larsen referred

assume

College Art Association in

New

York, she participated with Louise

Nevelson, John Cage, and others

on

a

panel entitled

five

"The

considerable responsibility as the

Art/Craft Connection: Material as

primary guardian of

a

his legacy.

In 1977 the Brooklyn

Museum

presented Anni Albers: Prints and Drawings, a comprehensive exhibition of her works on paper.

Albers designed a range of fabrics for Sunar, a textile in the 1980s, that

remained

in

has

production ever since.

Despite her disavowal of femi-

Women's C^aucus

lor Art

presented Albers with an award for

outstanding achievement

178

How rial,

do we choose our

in 1980.

specific

mate-

our means of communication?

"Accidentally. to us,

"

Something speaks

a sound, touch, hardness or

and asks us to We are finding our language, and as we go along we learn to obey their rules and their

softness, it catches us

company,

nism, the

Metaphor." During the panel,

she stated:

be formed.


limits.

.

.

Students worry about

.

choosing their way. I always

tell

drawings, and prims, together with a selection ol Josef's work,

exhibited in Josefand Anni Albers,

anywhere.

organized by Albers's close

"

Albers continued to travel,

Maxiniillian Schell, at the

visiting Fairope several rimes

Stuck

during these

at the

years. In 1983 she

presided over the opening oi the Josef Albers

Germany,

Museum

in

Bottrop,

Josef's birthplace.

Connections, a portfolio of

nine screenprints,

some based on

Bauhaus, was published

in

by Fausta Squatriti Edirore

A

Milan in 1984.

retrospective exhibition,

The Woven and Graphic Art of Anni Albers, was presented at the Renwick Gallery of the National

Museum

of

American

Art, Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D.C.,

in 1985

In 1990 Albers traveled to

and

to accept an

honorary

doctorate from the Royal College

of Art. Also

in

1990 she received

an honorary doctorate from the Island School ot Design,

Providence. Albers's in the

work was again seen of Modern Art in

Museum

1990, this time alongside works

by one of her former Bauhaus colleagues, in the exhibition Stolzl.

Anni

Gunta

Albers.

Anni Albers died

in

Orange,

Mav

9,

1994.

Connecticut, on

traveled to the Yale Universit)'

Art Ciallery,

New

Haven, Con-

necticut, in 1986. In

December

229.

Anni AUkts

1984.

1989, a selection

of her textiles, pictorial weavings,

179

,11

ilic

Roy.il (!ollcgc

of Art graduation ceremony to accept

an honorary doctorate,

London, lune

Munich and subsequently Josel Albers Museum.

Rhode

her earlier designs from the

frienci \'illa

in

London

Anni AlbcTs, Mil.m,

was

them, "You can go anywhere from '

liS.

29, 1990.


Notes

1.

Nicholas Fox Weber, "Anni Albers to

and Graphic Art of

Date," in The Woven

Anni Albers

(exh. cat.;

Washington, D.C.:

Smithsonian Institution 2.

Press, 1985), p. 15.

Conversation with Hans and Betty

Farman, Bethany, Conn., June 3.

4.

8,

The

in the late

and Anni

Josef

Albers Foundation archives, Bethany,

Conn.

Maximillian Schell, interview with Anni

The

transcript in

Josef and Anni Albers

Foundation archives.

7.

Nicholas Fox Weber, "Anni Albers to

with Anni Albers,

Fesci, interview

Haven, Conn., July

1968, Archives

5,

New York;

The Josef and Anni

transcript

Albers Foundation

archives.

Walter Gropius, Programm des

Staatlichen Bauhauses in

Weimar (Weimar,

April 1919), p. 4.

Feb. 23, 1920,

letter to

Weimar

quoted

259, 48;

in

Annie Weil,

State Archives no.

Anja Baumhofif, "Gender,

Art and Handicraft

Bauhaus," Ph.D.

at the

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,

diss.,

Schell, interview with Albers,

Dec.

16,

1989.

Wortmann

Weltge, interview

with Anni Albers, Orange, Conn., Feb.

1987; transcript in

21,

Anni Albers Foundation

Artist as Lawgiver," Arts

21,

1987.

Fesci, interview

with Albers,

1968.

5,

24.

Schell, interview

with Albers,

16, 1989.

Reminiscences by Lotte Benfey,

25.

with Albers,

26.

Fesci, interview

July

5,

27.

Weltge, interview with Albers,

Feb.

1968.

21,

1987.

28.

Weber, "Anni Albers to Date,"

29.

Schell, interview with Albers,

Dec.

Weber and Pandora

Tabatabai Asbaghi, interview with Philip

Johnson,

New

Canaan, Conn.,

July 26, 1998. 31.

Josef Albers, letter to Vasily Kandinsky,

Dec.

12, 1933, in

Kandinsky-Albers:

(Paris:

des annees trente

Centre Pompidou, 1998),

Teach," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 26, 1933, p. 8A.

The Josef and

33.

"One of Germany's Foremost Textile Comes Here to Teach in

Designers

archives.

Ibid.

Southern Mountain School,"

Annelise Fleischmann,

Sun, Dec. 4, 1933, p. 34.

special

Bauhaus supple-

Neue Frauenkleidung und

to

appeared

article,

in a special

"Bauhausweberei,"

Bauhaus number of

the journal /;/ÂŤ^f Menschen 8 (Nov. 1924), p. 188.

Albers:

Gemeinsames Leben, gemeinsame

Arbeit," in Josef Helfenstein

and Henriette

MemWi, Josef und Anni Albers,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Amerika, Kiinstlerpaare (exh. cat.; Bern:

1998), p.

Etiropa

und

Kiinstlerfreunde

Kunstmuseum

Bern,

31.

Anni Albers, "Design: Anonymous and

16.

Timeless" (1947), in

On

Schell, interview

Dec.

with Albers,

16, 1989.

Richard Polsky, interview with Anni

Albers, Orange, Conn., Jan.

11,

Research Office, Columbia University,

New

York; transcript in

Anni Albers Foundation

The

Josef and

archives, p. 35.

Mary Jane Jacob, "Anni Albers: A Modern Weaver as Artist," in The Woven and Graphic Art ofAnni Albers

37.

(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian

Designing

Institution Press, 1985), p. 67.

Tapis et Tissus, Art

International dAujotird'hui 17

and

18.

\^

(1926), plates

Albers,

"Weaving

at the

(Sept. 1938, revised July 1959), in

180

Bauhaus"

On

Mary

Mountain

MIT 39.

19.

Anni

1985,

"American Craftspeople Project," Oral

38.

{i<)z6).

Albers

Foundation archives. 35.

Press, 1971), p. 2.

Ofjietj

1996;

14,

The Josef and Anni

(Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan Universit)'

17.

York

Frederick A. Horowitz, interview with

transcript in

36.

Nicholas Fox Weber, "Anni und Josef

15.

34.

New

Barbara (Bobbie) Dreier, June

Frauenkultur (Karlsruhe, 1924). Albers 's

second published

p. 17.

"Art Professor, Fleeing Nazis, Here to

14.

"Wohnokonomie,"

p. 20.

16, 1989.

Nicholas Fox

13.

ment

(1957),

^x (Sept. 1977), pp. 122-27.

July

32.

Sigrid

12.

The

Une Correspondence

1994, p. 82. 11.

Feb.

30.

Walter Gropius,

10.

4

Designing, p. 19.

late 1970s.

p. 16.

of American Art,

9.

On

Weltge, interview with Albers,

22.

Dec.

Ibid.

in

Bauhaus:

23.

6.

Savim

Pliable Plane:

Marcel Franciscono, "Paul KJee in the

21.

Magazine

Albers, Orange, Conn., Dec. 16, 1989;

8.

"The

Albers,

pp. 36-41; reprinted in

1970s; transcript in

New

Anni

20.

Reminiscences by Lotte Benfey, recorded

Date,"

Textiles

1993). PP- 98-99-

Textiles in Architecture," Perspecta

1998.

Ibid.

by her grandson Phihp Benfey

5.

p. 2.

Wortmann Weltge, Bauhaus (London: Thames and Hudson,

Sigrid

19.

Emma

Harris, The Arts at Black

College (Cambridge, Mass.:

Press, 1987), p. 24.

Copies of

this letter are in

and Anni Albers Foundation

The

Josef

archives.


Nicholas Fox Webcr, telephone con-

40.

versation with Bobbie Dreier, July 29. 1998.

Nicholas Fox Weber, preface, in Karl

41.

54.

Anni

"Handweaving loday

Albers,

Work

Textile

BLick Mountain C'ollege,"

at

The Weaverb. no.

1

(Jan. -Feb. 1941).

Taube, The Josef and Anui Albers Collection

pp. 1-4. In response to this article,

of Pre-Columbian Art (New York: Hudson

M.

Hills Press, 1988), p. 9-

home-weaving course,

Anni

42.

Albers, letter to Vasily

Kandinsky, Aug.

Kaiulimky-

22, 1936, in

Une Correspondance

Alhers:

and Nina

des annees

Anni Albers, Pre-Columbian Mexican

43.

(New

Pretty

translated by Fleischmann's grandson

57.

and Anni

Josef

Anni Albers,

New

58.

and Albers,

46.

Ibid., July 16, 1937.

Department

47.

Anni

"The Weaving Workshop," Gropius, and

Ise

Herbert Bayer, Bauhaus 1919-1928 (exh.

New

cat.;

Museum

York:

of Modern Art,

"

p. 29.

Reprinted

48.

at

the

Designing, pp. 38-40.

in

Colkge Art Journal

no. 2 (Jan. 1944), pp. $1-54;

and

in

61.

Weber and Asbaghi,

On

Polsky, interview with Albers, Jan.

62.

"The Reminiscences

49. Josef Albers, letter to Herbert Bayer,

pp. 31-32.

May

63.

Ibid., pp. 17-18.

64.

"The

Black Mountain College

North Carolina

State Archives,

Toni Ullstein Fleischmann, "Thrown

Off the Track"

(1939),

unpublished account

of the Fleischmanns emigration from

Germany

to the

United

transcript, translated

Anni

in

The

Josef and

C'ollege

16, 1989.

"Designing," Craft Horizons

(May

5,

1943), pp. 7-9;

2,

Design 46, no. 4 (Dec.

in

On

New York:

p. 7.

Polsky, interview with Albers, Jan.

68.

Ibid.

69.

Preface,

On

Wearing (Middletown, Press, 1965),

"We Need 12,

Statement by Anni Albers

70.

release issued

Museum, New

the

1944), pp. 21-22

"One Aspect of Art Work,"

Designing, pp. 30-33); "Constructing

York; copy in

and Anni Albers Foundation 71.

an

The

Josef

archives.

Schell, interview with Albers,

Dec. 72.

in

by the Jewish

16, 1989.

Anni Albers,

letter to

Jack Lenor

Textiles," Design 47, no. 8 (April 4, 1946)

Larsen, July 23, 1981; The Josef and

(reprinted in Alvin Lustig, cd., Visual

Albers Foundation archives.

Communication [New York,

On

1945],

and

in

Designing, pp. 12-16); "Design:

Anonymous and ofArt ^o. no. "Fabrics," Art 1948), p. 33;

73.

Transcript in

The

Anni

Josef and Anni

Albers Foundation archives.

Timeless," The Magazine

2 (Feb. 1947),

On

(reprinted in

11,

"The Reminiscences of Anni .Mbers,"

1985;

undated press

no. 2

Crafts for Their Contact with Materials,"

(reprinted as

(exh. cat.;

Brooklyn Museum, 1977),

p. 15.

Albers's publications in the 1940s were:

53.

Baro, interview with Anni

Anni Albers

Conn.: Wesleyan University

Schell, interview with Albers,

Dec.

Gene

p. 21.

State Archives,

Raleigh. 52.

Anni Albers, unpublished typewritten

67.

Anne Mangold,

Mountain

North Carolina

65.

Albers, in

archives.

Albers, letter to

1939; Black

15,

Papers,

Pliable Plane: Textiles in

statement, June 1962; The Josef and Anni

66.

by Fleischmann's

Anni Albers Foundation

June

11,

Anni Albers,"

Albers Foundation archives.

States; English

grandson Theodor Bcnfcy,

51.

ot

Architecture," Perspecta 4 (1957), pp. 36-41.

Raleigh. 50.

interview with

Johnson, July 26, 1998.

),

1985;

Papers,

11,

The Reminiscences of Anni Albers,"

Designing, pp. 50-53.

12, 1939;

files.

and Design,

of Architecture

Polsky, interview with Albers, Jan.

60.

"Weaving

as

On

in

Jan. 14, 1949, exhibition

Johnson, July 26, 1998.

1985;

Bauhaus,"

11,

The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 59. Weber and Asbaghi, interview with

1938, 1952), pp. 141-42; revised in July 1959

and reprinted

The

Report of meeting between Johnson

Ibid.

Albers,

Jane Sabersky,

Mexico, Jan. 20, 1947;

Polsky, interviesv with Albers, Jan.

45.

Walter Gropius,

18, 1941.

letter to

1985, p. 28.

Albers Foundation archives.

in

p. 13.

Josef and Anni Albers Foundation archives.

English transcript,

The

Art?" The Wearer 6,

Dorothy Randall, "Hardware, Plumbing

La Luz,

in

Is It

55.

44. Toni Ullstein Fleischmann, travel

Theodor Bentcy,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; But

(July-Aug. 1941),

3

Sun-Telegraph. Nov.

York: Praeger, 1970),

17, 1937;

flincy

I

no.

56.

June

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

industry would consider this a big joke!"

unpaginated.

diary,

"The

scoffed:

for industry

Gadgets Make Jewelry," The Pittsburgh

Miniatures: The Josef and Anni Albers Collection

making of models

"It's

trente, p. 77.

Mary

Arwater, the originator of a popular

pp. 51-53

Designing, pp. 1-9);

and Architecture

b}

(March

and "Weavings," Art and

Architecture (>6 (Feb. 1949). p. 14.

181


The Solomon

R.

Guggenheim

Trustees

Foundation

Giovanni Agnelli Jon Imanol Azua

Honorary

Trustees in Perpetuity

Solomon

R.

Justin K.

Thannhauser

M. Brant Mary Sharp Cronson Elizabeth T. Dingman Peter

Guggenheim

Peggy Guggenheim

May

Gail

Engelberg

Daniel Filipacchi

Honorary Chairman

Barbara Jonas

David H. Koch

Peter Lawson-Johnston

Thomas Krens Chairman

Barbara Lane

Peter B. Lewis

Peter Lawson-Johnston

Samuel Ronald O. Pereiman

Peter Littmann

Wendy

L-J.

McNeil

Edward H. Meyer

Vice-Presidents

Wendy

L-J.

John

Wadsworth,

S.

LeFrak

J.

Peter B. Lewis

President

McNeil

Ronald O. Pereiman Frederick

Jr.

W. Reid

Richard A. Rifkind Vice-President

and

Denise Saul

Treasurer

Stephen C. Swid

Terry Semel

James

Sherwood

B.

W Sidawi

Director

Raja

Thomas Krens

Seymour

Slive

Stephen C. Swid

John

Secretary

Edward

F.

Wadsworth,

S.

Michael

F.

Wettach

Honorary Trustee

John Wilmerding

Claude Pompidou

William

Trustees

Ex

Jr.

Cornel West

Rover

T. Ylvisaker

Officio

Dakis Joannou Luigi Moscheri

Director Emeritus

Thomas M. Messer

Photo

credits (by figure

number):

21-23, 29. 39' 41-46, 49. 50,

64-67, 132-47, 153-57.

Nighswander;

Munich;

5,

7, 38:

6:

Department

4,

53. 54-

56-58,

161, 174. 175:

Tim

Die Neue Sammlung,

Michael Nedzweski,

Museum

of Library Services,

of Natural History,

52, 68, 69,

73-82, 84,

85,

American

New

95-106,

126, 128-32, 158:

©1998 The Metropolitan

Museum

New York;

of Art,

59:

Lee

©The Jewish

©President and Fellows of Harvard

Stalsworth; 60:

John

College, Harvard University, Cambridge,

Museum, New

York; 61-63: Ellen

Mass.;

8, 9,

11-20, 40, 70-72, 83, 86-94,

107-18, 120-23, I25' '-7' '59' '60, 180, 202:

Art,

New York;

Blackink Architectural Photography,

Dallas; 165, 223: Getulio Alviani; 171:

Katherine Newbegin; 172, 201:

David Mathews,

10:

Parnell,

Labenski; 150, 164, 168: John Hill; 162, 163:

©1999 The Museum of Modern

York;

119, 124,

Wide World

©President and Fellows of Harvard

Photos

College, Harvard University, Cambridge,

Research Library, Getty Research Institute,

Mass.; 24, 25,

GmbH, 27:

191:

Thomas

©ARS, New

York;

Lunt, Department ot Library

Services,

American

History,

New

Museum

of Natural

York; 28: R.E. Logan,

Haacke;

189, 198:

Los Angeles. Front cover: ©1998 The

Bauhaus-Archiv

Berlin; 26, 30:

Inc.; 181: Faith

Metropolitan

Museum

of Art,

New

York.

Back cover: ©1947 Nancy Newhall. The

Beaumont and Nancy Newhall

estate.

Courtesy of Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd.


Guggenheim Collection

I'^ggy

Family committee

^^ggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board

Christian Haberniann

M. W. Harrison

Jacques Hachuel Gilbert

David Helion

President

Fabrice Helion'*'

Peter Lawson-Jtjhn.stun

W. Lawrence Heisey William M. Hollis, Jr.

Vice-President

Jacques E. Lennon

Evelyn Lambert

Nicolas Helion

Laurence and S.indro Riimncy

The

Clovis Vail Julia Vail

and

Karolc

B. Vail

Mark

P.

Vail

BriiLC

Earl Castle Siewarl

Mnuland

Samuel H. Lindenbaum Jime Lowell

Hoiioniry C.hiiinnun

Cristiano Mantero

Claude

Achille

Maramotti

Valeria

Monti

Poiiijiidou

Honorary Vice-Chairman

H. R. H. The Grand Duchess of

Luxembourg

Luigi Moscheri

Raymond D. Nasher Christina

Newburgh

Giovanni Pandini Honorary Member

Annelise Ratii

Olga Adamishina

Benjamin

Rauch

B.

Richard A. Rifkind

Members

Nanette Ross Miles Rubin

Luigi Agrati

Steven

Ames

Aldo Sacchi

Giuseppina Araldi CluiiKiti

Gheri Sacklcr

Maria Angeles AriMraiii

Sir

Rosa Ayer

Denise Saul

Marchese Annlbalc

Bcrlingieri

Alexander Bernstein Patti

Cadby

Birch

Timothy

Sainsbur;-

Evelina Schapira

Hannclore

B.

Schulhof

James B. Shenvood

Mary Bloch

Riki Taylor

Wilfred Cass

Roberto Tronchetti Provera

The

Melissa Ulfane

Earl Castle Stewart

Claudio Cavazza

Leopoldo

Fausto Cereti

Jean Wagener

Sir Trevor

Chinn

Franca Coin

Dingman Ehrmann

Nancy

Villarcal

Pierce Watts

Ruth Westen Pavese

Elizabeth T.

Christine

Emeritus Members

Isabella del Frate Eich

Enrico Chiari

Rosemary Chisholni Feick

William Feick,

Mary Gaggia

Umberto Nordio

David Gallagher

Anna

Danielle Gardner

Kristen Venable

Patricia

Gerber

Marino

Golinelli

F.

Jr.

Scotti


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