When you think about your design heroes, who comes to mind? As a weaver, the work and writings of Anni Albers has influenced both my design education and artistic sensibility.
In 1899, Annelise Fleischman, known as the renowned designer Anni Albers, was born in Berlin, Germany. Her artistic studies began there in 1916 while studying under impressionist artist Martin Brandenburg. At the conclusion of her studies in 1919, Fleischman studied for one year at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Art), in Hamburg. After this initial artistic training she entered the Bauhaus in 1922. In 1923, she entered the Weaving Workshop where she remained there in varying roles from student to director until 1932. It was at that time when the Bauhaus was forced by the German authority to close its doors.
Anni Albers emigrated to the United States with her husband, Josef, in 1933. At Black Mountain College from 1933 to 1949 she was head of the weaving department. She was greatly influential not only within the domain of weaving, but also through her theoretical writing. Her intellectual capabilities enhanced her capabilities as an artist and designer. After moving to New Haven, Connecticut with Josef, she gave a course of guest lectures to architecture students at Yale University and at schools across the US during the 1950s.
Structure was integral in her theoretical practices and designing. As a result, the similarities between architecture and weaving were explored by Albers.
She believed textiles to be integral to the interior space of a building.
In 1961, the American Institute of Architects awarded her the gold medal of craftsmanship.
Albers publications, On Weaving and On Designing concisely describe her perceptions and theories. She was a forerunner in the incorporation of art & technology. As a key Bauhaus ideal of unifying creativity and manufacturing, art & technology working together is apparent in the works of Bauhaus Weavers. Albers spoke of the Jacquard mechanism as a blessing and an additional tool for designer’s to create functional, aesthetically beautiful cloth. She embraced its capabilities and achieved astonishing results.
She was avant-garde; in a time period where women were rarely recognized and certainly not praised for their work, Albers was a trailblazer as a woman in design – playing an essential role in attaining the recognition of weaving as art. In 1949, Albers had her first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Anni Albers presence, theory, and teachings has an apparent impact in modern textile design. Fabric lines from Larsen, Suzanne Tick, and Maharam have obviously been inspired by the work and theory of the Bauhaus weavers. As one becomes acquainted with both the written work and weaving art of Anni Albers, inspiration is sure to follow.