Anni Albers 1899–1994
Born Annelise Elsa Frieda Fleischmann in Berlin in1899, Anni Albers expressed a fascination with the arts from an early age. Her parents encouraged her artistic talents, and she soon became proficient at both drawing and painting. In 1922, she entered school at the Bauhaus. Fascinated by textiles (perhaps because it was the only department open to women students), she describes that it was “the threads that caught” her and drew her to the word of weaving. In 1925, she married former Bauhaus student Josef Albers, who became a master at the school later that year. In 1931, upon the departure of Gunta Stölzl, Albers was made the head of the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus. After fleeing the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany in 1933, architect Philip Johnson aided her and her husband in securing teaching positions at the famed Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In 1949, the pair moved to New Haven, Connecticut. The following year, Philip Johnson and Edward Kaufmann curated a solo exhibition of Albers’ weavings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition, titled Anni Albers’ Textiles, was the first-ever show at the museum devoted to a textile artist. The exhibit was a smash hit, and traveled to more than twenty-five different cities in America. Albers published her landmark text On Weaving in 1965, a work that would go on to influence generations of fiber artists. During the 1960s and 1970s, Albers became interested in print-making and mastered both silk-screen printing and lithography. In 1980, she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Craft Council. Albers died in 1994, leaving a transformative legacy in the field of fiber art. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Bauhaus Archive, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among many others.