Anni Albers, the Bauhaus and the pliable plane

Anni Albers in her weaving studio at Black Mountain College, 1937

Source: © 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Pushed into weaving because she was a woman, Albers became fascinated by the medium’s architectural uses says the curator of the Tate’s retrospective

As a young woman entering the Bauhaus in 1922, Anni Albers was encouraged, like most of the women students, to join the weaving workshop. Initially irritated by the implicit hierarchy – the covert assumption of gender bias that weaving was somehow less important – she soon became immersed in the medium and its possibilities.

Alongside the other great Bauhaus weavers like Gunta Stozl and Otti Berger, Anni Albers was largely responsible for creating the idea of the modernist textile, creating numerous one-off wall hangings as well as designs for manufacture.

The striking grids and asymmetries of Albers’ classic wall hangings from her Bauhaus years show her transforming the textile medium, using the ancient craft techniques of a basic handloom to convey a modern geometric sensibility.

As well as making one-off works she also produced designs for manufacture throughout her career. Her Bauhaus diploma piece of 1929 used cellophane in a soundproofing fabric made to line the walls of an auditorium of a trade school designed by Hannes Meyer in nearby Bernau. The successful design shows how already at this early period she was thinking about the close relationship between weaving and architecture.

This is premium content. 

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or SUBSCRIBE to view this story

Gated access promo

Existing subscriber? LOGIN

A subscription to Building Design will provide:

  • Unlimited architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a digital copy of WA100 worth over £45.

Subscribe now for unlimited access.

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts