Anni Albers, Vitreous Painting on Glass, 8 x 10"
Anni (Fleischmann) Albers (June 12, 1899 – May 9, 1994) was a German-American textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century.
Albers was born Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann in Berlin. Her mother was from an aristocratic family in the publishing industry and her father was a furniture-maker. Even in her childhood, she was intrigued by art and the visual world. She painted during her youth and studied under an impressionist from 1916 to 1919, but was very discouraged from continuing after a meeting with artist Oskar Kokoschka, who upon seeing a portrait of hers asked her sharply "Why do you paint?" She eventually decided to attend art school, even though the challenges for art students were often great and the living conditions harsh.
At Walter Gropius's Bauhaus she began her first year under Georg Muche and then Johannes Itten. Women were barred from certain disciplines taught at the school, especially architecture, and during her second year, unable to get into a glass workshop with future husband Josef Albers, Anni Albers deferred reluctantly to weaving. With her instructor Gunta Stölzl, however, Albers soon learned to love weaving's tactile construction challenges.
The Bauhaus at Dessau was closed in 1932 under pressure from the Nazi party and moved briefly to Berlin, permanently closing a year later in August 1933. The Albers were invited by Philip Johnson to teach at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina, arriving stateside in November 1933. Both taught at Black Mountain until 1949.
Albers worked primarily in textiles and, late in life, as a printmaker. She produced numerous designs in ink washes for her textiles, and occasionally experimented with jewelry. Her woven works include many wall hangings, curtains and bedspreads, mounted "pictorial" images, and mass-produced yard material. Her weavings are often constructed of both traditional and industrial materials, not hesitating to combine jute, paper, and cellophane, for instance, to startlingly sublime effect.