Known for her pioneering graphic wall hangings, weavings, and designs, Anni Albers (née Annelise Fleischmann; 1899-1994) is considered one of the most important abstract artists of the twentieth century, as well as an influential designer, printmaker, and educator. Across the breadth of her career, she combined a deep and intuitive understanding of materials and process with her inventive and visually engaging exploration of form and color. Born in Berlin, she studied weaving at the Bauhaus beginning in 1922, eventually joining the faculty in 1929. Her innovative textiles from this period combined avant-garde geometric abstractions with weaving for the first time, creating works that were at once functional and aesthetic. Albers was deeply influenced by pre-Columbian art and textiles, which she encountered on trips to Mexico during her time teaching at Black Mountain College between 1933 and 1949. She went on to employ long-forgotten techniques discovered through her in-depth study and collection of these works, leading eventually to the creation of her pictorial weavings of the 1950s. After 1963, she largely moved away from weaving to focus on printmaking and drawing as well as a select number of commissions that likewise engaged her singular approach to composition, creating numerous abstract motifs.
In 1933, Albers and her husband Josef emigrated to North Carolina, where they founded the Black Mountain College art department. At Black Mountain College, she elaborated on the technical innovations she devised at the Bauhaus, developing a specialized curriculum that integrated weaving and industrial design. It was during this time that she began to avidly collect Pre-Columbian art, in particular textiles. In 1949, she became the first designer to have a one-person show at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the exhibition Anni Albers: Textiles subsequently traveled to 26 venues throughout the United States and Canada. Following the couple’s move to New Haven in 1950, Anni Albers shifted her focus primarily to her workshop, spending the 1950s creating mass-reproducible fabrics (including a commission from Walter Gropius for Harvard University), writing, and developing her “pictorial weavings,” culminating in the exhibition Anni Albers: Pictorial Weavings at the MIT New Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1959. The show traveled to Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh; Baltimore Museum of Art; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; and Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.
In 1963, Albers added printmaking to her artistic repertoire, working primarily in this medium from that point on. Her prints have been featured in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including Anni Albers. Bildweberei, Zeichnung, Druckgrafik at the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf in 1975, which traveled to the Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin. A retrospective exhibition on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1999, organized by The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, traveled to the Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; and The Jewish Museum, New York.
The artist’s seminal book On Weaving, published in 1965, helped to establish design studies as an area of academic and aesthetic inquiry and solidified her status as the single most influential textile artist of the twentieth century. Her writings on design, first published as On Designing in 1959, were reissued in 2000.
In 2017-2018, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presented Anni Albers: Touching Vision, an in-depth survey of the artist’s work. The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf organized an exhibition of Albers’s work in 2018, which traveled to the Tate Modern in London. In 2019, the two-person exhibition, Paul Klee and Anni Albers, was presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Anni and Josef Albers: Art and Life was on view at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, in 2021, and subsequently traveled to IVAM (Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno), Valencia, Spain, in 2022.
Since May 2016, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation has been exclusively represented by David Zwirner. The gallery’s first solo presentation of Anni Albers’s work was on view in 2019, coinciding with the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus.
From October 15, 2022 to January 15, 2023, the Kunstmuseum Den Haag in the Hague, Netherlands, is staging a retrospective of the work of Anni and Josef Albers, featuring over 200 artworks, including paintings, photographs, furniture, drawings, and textile.
The couple met at the Bauhaus in 1922. There, they developed a lifelong personal and professional relationship. After fleeing Germany in 1933, they continued to make art and teach in the United States.
The exhibition will show Anni Albers’s evolution into a pioneer of modern textile art, and Josef’s process of artistic development culminating in his signature Homage to the Square series. Although Anni and Josef worked with different materials, the exhibition will show how much they influenced each other, sharing the same sense of color, rhythm, and form that reflects the principles of the Bauhaus. A Dutch-language catalogue will be published by WBOOKS in close collaboration with The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Learn more at the Kunstumuseum Den Haag.
August 25–December 11, 2022
Comprising over 100 objects from the collection of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Anni Albers: Work with Materials spans the artist and designer’s wide range of production over a career of seven decades. Taking its title from her 1937 essay of the same name, the exhibition highlights the nimbleness with which Albers moved between mediums. It emphasizes her fluid transitions between creating artwork and designing more functional and commercial objects. Albers’s drawings, prints, textile samples, rugs, and writings demonstrate a wide-ranging curiosity and multi-faceted proficiency.
Foregrounding the transition from weaver to printmaker that Albers made in the 1960s, the exhibition begins with Connections, a series of nine silkscreen prints from 1983 in which Albers recreated images from every decade of her long career. The exhibition proceeds to show in greater detail the visual and material connections that drove her evolving studio practice.
In weaving, designing, and printmaking, Albers’s faith in the power of abstraction never wavered. Throughout her widely varied, yet consistent and focused output, we see an artist who understood material not only as a vehicle to carry ideas, but more importantly for its physical and structural potential. As she put it, “if we want to get from materials the sense of directness, the adventure of being close to the stuff the world is made of, we have to go back to the material itself, to its original state, and from there on partake in its stages of change.”
Learn more at the Syracuse University Art Museum.
You can go anywhere: Josef & Anni Albers Foundation at 50
On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation publishes You can go anywhere. This collection of essays by the foundation’s staff and collaborators reveals the broad scope of how the nonprofit has carried on the legacy of the Alberses over the years.
After an introduction exploring the foundation’s history, You can go anywhere features a wide range of essays by people from around the world who have contributed to the foundation’s work, such as the architects Manuel Herz and Toshiko Mori; the designers Paul Smith and Christopher Farr; and curators, museum directors, and staff members. The book is richly illustrated with photos by Iwan Baan, Giovanni Hänninen, and Sofia Verzbolovskis, as well as archival material and art by the Alberses. The heart of the book is devoted to the foundation’s many donations to international museums, including rarely shown works of art.
First Exhibition in France Dedicated to Anni and Josef Albers Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris
September 10, 2021–January 9, 2022
Anni et Josef Albers: L’art et la vie marks the first exhibition in France dedicated to the two artists as a couple: to the intimate, empathetic bond that underpinned a lifetime of mutual support and encouragement and an ongoing dialogue founded on shared respect. Not only did they create an oeuvre now considered the basis of modernism, they also passed on their educative values to a whole new generation of artists.
This comprehensive presentation of Anni and Josef Albers’s respective oeuvres includes more than 350 paintings, photographs, furniture, drawings, and textiles. It chronicles the different stages of the artists’ lives, bringing together the rich and varied output from their Bauhaus days (1920–1933) to their later works produced at Black Mountain College. Two other highlights are a selection of Anni’s pictorial weavings and Josef’s Homages to the Square. The exhibition closes with a section devoted to Anni’s graphic work, which she began with Josef in the 1960s and continued until the end of her life.
The exhibition is in collaboration with The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, who celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in 2021. “It is an honor to create an exhibition that continues to bring life and light into their legacy,” says Nicholas Fox Weber, executive director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and friend of the late artists.
In 1971, Josef Albers established a non-profit organization to further "the revelation and evocation of vision through art." Today that organization is The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the achievements of the artists, as well as the aesthetic and philosophical principles by which they lived.
The Foundation is located in Bethany, Connecticut, near New Haven, and houses offices, archives, and collections. The Foundation mainly works on exhibitions and publications while also assisting with research and supporting educational initiatives. It is open by appointment to individuals, scholars, and curators for tours, study, and research. The Foundation maintains two residential studios for visiting artists who exemplify the seriousness of purpose that characterized both Anni and Josef Albers. The residencies are designed to provide time, space, and solitude, with the benefit of access to the Foundation's archives and library.
Visit the Foundation's website to learn more through in-depth biographies, a chronology of the artists' lives and careers, selected writings, and more.
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation also supports Thread, a cultural center and water source in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, the southeastern region of Senegal. The center also hosts an artist residency program that allows its participants to experience and be inspired by the village, while developing linkages between rural Senegal and other parts of the globe. Thread has no fixed artistic program, but rather aims to foster connections and community in keeping with the philosophies of Josef and Anni Albers.
The Foundation is also affiliated with the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, which opened in 1983. Located in Josef Albers's place of birth in Germany, the museum preserves 100 paintings in addition to graphic works, studies on paper, glass pictures, and furniture and is closely affiliated with neighboring museums in the Quadrat complex. The museum's collection is largely made up of donations from the Foundation.
March 19–June 14, 2020
This month, the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) will present an exhibition that focuses on the work Anni Albers produced while living in Connecticut from the 1950s until the time of her death. In 1949, the Alberses left Black Mountain College, settling in New Haven, Connecticut in 1950. This period saw the creation of an extensive body of work by Anni Albers, encompassing textiles, wall hangings, commercial collaborations—such as her designs for Knoll—works on paper, and writings, including her seminal book On Weaving, which was first published in 1965.
Organized by The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, In Thread and On Paper is part of the museum’s 2020/20+ Women @ NBMAA initiative, which focuses this year’s program on seven exhibitions of work by groundbreaking women artists. Anni Albers has received renewed institutional attention in recent years—as Peter Chappell writes in The Guardian, “Albers found success not with titanic installations, but with a medium she had to insist was taken seriously.” In 2017 and 2018, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presented an in-depth survey titled Anni Albers: Touching Vision. The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf organized an exhibition of Albers’s work in 2018, which traveled to Tate Modern in London. Last year, Paul Klee and Anni Albers was presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Anni Albers in Group Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago
August 3, 2019–February 17, 2020
The Art Institute of Chicago commemorates the centenary of the Bauhaus with an exhibition highlighting the output of the acclaimed German art school’s textile workshop and its impact on modern and contemporary American art. Weaving beyond the Bauhaus features fifty works both on and off the loom by pioneering artists such as Anni Albers, Claire Zeisler, Lenore Tawney, Otti Berger, Gunta Stölzl, Else Regensteiner, Ethel Stein, and Sheila Hicks.
Weaving beyond the Bauhaus channels the voices of the artists themselves, who tell their own stories through wall texts as well as original postcards, correspondence, and ephemera. The exhibition reflects the movement’s innovations, with their “playful productivity”—in the words of Anni Albers—on full display. Together, the Bauhaus artists and their American compatriots pushed the envelope of woven structure, sometimes beyond the loom, challenging reductive notions about the role of weaving and textiles within the broader art world. Their material explorations spanned cellophane and modern metallic thread, glass ornaments, leather and plastics, beads, feathers, pieces of slate, and rubber bands, incorporating elements of painting and printmaking.
September 6, 2019–January 12, 2020
The works of Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Clara Porset, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Cynthia Sargent, and Sheila Hicks have never been shown together before. While some of the artists and designers in this exhibition knew one another and collaborated together, they are from different generations, and their individual work encompasses a range of media varying from furniture and interior design to sculpture, textiles, photography, and prints. They all, however, share one defining aspect: Mexico, a country in which they all lived or worked between the 1940s and 1970s. During this period they all realized projects that breached disciplinary boundaries and national divides.
Encouraged to visit Mexico by friend and fellow artist Clara Porset, Anni Albers first traveled to the country in 1935 and made thirteen subsequent trips. Mexico’s landscape and architecture became a vital source of inspiration and remained so throughout her career, providing an abstract visual language for her designs. The triangle motif, for instance, that she used repeatedly in textiles and screenprints was drawn from archaeological Zapotec sites such as Monte Albán.
March 23–August 4, 2019
Under the tutelage of the Bauhaus master Paul Klee, Anni Albers elevated the ancient art of weaving into a bold and vibrant modernist art form. This exhibition explores linear and geometric constructions by both artists across a range of media—including weaving, painting, and drawing—in which line and the pliable plane are paramount.
October 11, 2018–January 27, 2019
Presented at Tate Modern in London, this extensive retrospective covered the full range of Anni Albers’s pioneering career, from intricate small-scale works to complex wall hangings and the unique textiles she designed for mass production. Organized by Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and Tate Modern, and curated by Maria Müller-Schareck and Ann Coxon, the show traveled to London from Düsseldorf, where it was on view from June 9–September 9, 2018.
Taking place on the heels of the critically acclaimed show Anni Albers: Touching Vision at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain and, as both The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times have noted, this show is among a slew of international exhibitions focused on the work of Anni Albers and her husband, Josef Albers.
Anni Albers enrolled as a student at the Bauhaus in 1922. Following her emigration to the United States with Josef in 1933, the couple taught at Black Mountain College, where she continued expanding her experimental practice. An article in The Wall Street Journal explores how the couple became "leading lights of 20th-century modernism," discussing their influential work at Black Mountain College, the establishment of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and the recent resurgence of interest in their respective artistic practices. This year, a series of exhibitions in Japan, China, Russia, and Brazil anticipate the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Bauhaus art school in Weimar, Germany, where Josef and Anni met in 1922. A landmark exhibition will be held at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt in 2019 to mark the official centenary.
Recent and forthcoming publications also offer new opportunities to discover Anni Albers’s work, through her own writings and fresh scholarship. In 2017, Princeton University Press released an expanded edition of On Weaving, a seminal collection of the artist’s essays that was first published in 1965, and David Zwirner Books published Anni Albers: Notebook 1970–1980, a facsimile of Albers’s only known notebook. As Felix Bazalgette wrote in Elephant magazine, Albers’s exercises on graph paper "represent the efforts of a septuagenarian . . . playfully pushing herself onwards into less well-explored territory. It’s in this sense of play . . . that these deceptively simple drawings begin to come alive, with a gradually building, almost psychedelic intensity." An in-depth profile in The New York Review of Books Daily discusses the “kind of aesthetic synesthesia” of her practice: "‘We learn to listen to voices," she wrote in the mid-1940s, "to the yes or no of our material, our tools, our time.’"
On the occasion of the retrospective, a new monograph is being published with groundbreaking analysis of the artist’s most important works, redefining the contributions she made to twentieth-century art and design. Edited by exhibition curators Müller-Schareck and Coxon with art historian Briony Fer, the book includes contributions from Brenda Danilowitz, chief curator of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and Nicholas Fox Weber, the Foundation’s executive director, as well as Magdalena Droste, María Minera, Priyesh Mistry, Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye, and T’ai Smith.
Image: Installation view, Anni Albers, Tate Modern, London, 2018. © Tate photography (Seraphina Neville)
October 6, 2017–January 14, 2018
Anni Albers: Touching Vision was an in-depth survey spanning the pioneering artist's career from 1925 to the late 1970s, exploring the formal developments and continuing influence of her practice. Albers began her career at the Bauhaus, enrolling as a student in 1922 before eventually becoming the director of the weaving workshop in 1931. Following her emigration to the United States with her husband Josef in 1933, the couple both taught at Black Mountain College, where Anni Albers continued to expand her experimental practice.
On the occasion of the exhibition, David Zwirner Books published Anni Albers: Notebook 1970–1980, a facsimile of Albers's only known notebook, the original of which is on view in Bilbao. In addition, an expanded edition of her seminal book On Weaving, first published in 1965, has been newly published by Princeton University Press.
Above: Anni Albers in her weaving studio at Black Mountain College, 1937. Photo by Helen M. Post. Courtesy of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut.
Anni Albers: Notebook 1972–1980 is a facsimile of the only known notebook compiled by the artist. This previously unpublished document follows Albers's progression as a draftsman and includes intricate drawings related to her large body of graphic work, as well as studies for the late knot drawings. With an afterword by Brenda Danilowitz, Chief Curator of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
"An exquisitely produced new book reveals the playful experimentation of original Bauhaus member Anni Albers, cementing her reputation as a powerful force in the graphic arts amidst a flurry of major solo shows," Felix Bazalgette writes in a review of the publication for Elephant.
Thread, a Project of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Senegal
In summer 2017, David Zwirner hosted a benefit exhibition in New York to support Thread, a project of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, with artworks generously donated by gallery artists and others.
Opened in March 2015, Thread is a socio-cultural center with a residency program for local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda in the southeastern region of Senegal. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation originally initiated the project in a remote part of sub-Saharan Africa to allow painters, dancers, photographers, and other artists from all over the world, as well as from within Senegal, to pursue their own work in exceptional conditions while also interacting with the local community. Nicholas Fox Weber, Executive Director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, has supported development initiatives in this community for over 15 years through Le Korsa, a non-profit initiative established by the Foundation in 2005 to give support to medical and educational facilities in rural Senegal.
Anni Albers said "You can go anywhere from anywhere." In the two years since it opened, Thread—like Black Mountain College and the Bauhaus, where Anni and Josef both worked and taught—has proved her point.
Thread links efforts of cultural productivity, agricultural development, income generation, sports, education, and female empowerment, all under one roof. Its residency program has already hosted over 30 artists from 18 different countries. Thread's Director is Nick Murphy, who is based in Paris and travels regularly to Sinthian. Together with Moussa Sene, Thread's General Manager based in Sinthian, Murphy devises its programming, as well as developing international attention and collaboration for Thread and the projects associated with it.
Designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, the Thread building combines form and function. The building received an American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 2017.
Read more about Thread in The Art Newspaper.
Above: Photo by Iwan Baan
Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction
Four works by Anni Albers were included in the critically acclaimed group exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
Two of the works, both entitled Free-Hanging Room Divider, date from 1949, the year Anni Albers became the first textile artist to have a one-person show at The Museum of Modern Art; the exhibition Anni Albers: Textiles subsequently traveled to 26 venues throughout the United States and Canada. The other two works included in Making Space are Tapestry (1948) and Enmeshed I, a lithograph made in 1963 when Anni Albers added printmaking to her artistic repertoire, making it her primary medium from that point on.
In his review of the exhibition in The New York Times, Holland Cotter writes, "the grid as a form gets an impressive pre-Minimalist workout in 1940s room dividers made of cellophane and horsehair by the incomparable weaver, printmaker, art historian, philosopher, teacher, theorist and life-student Anni Albers."
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Is Now Exclusively Represented by David Zwirner
Josef and Anni Albers at Black Mountain College, 1949
Photo: Theodore Dreier
Courtesy The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
(New York & London) David Zwirner is pleased to announce its exclusive worldwide representation of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation is devoted to preserving and promoting the achievements of both Josef and Anni Albers, and the aesthetic and philosophical principles by which they lived. The Foundation is based in Bethany, Connecticut, near New Haven, where it maintains a central research and archival facility, as well as residence studios for visiting artists.
David Zwirner will be The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation's exclusive commercial gallery. In this role, David Zwirner will promote the legacies of both Josef and Anni Albers through curated exhibitions at its New York and London gallery spaces; the development of new scholarship on the artists' work through publications and international exhibitions; and through the sale of artworks consigned to the gallery by the Foundation.
The gallery will present an exhibition of Josef Albers's work in its 537 West 20th Street location in New York in November 2016 that will explore the relationship between his Homage to the Square paintings and the monochrome.
As stated by David Zwirner, "Josef and Anni Albers are among the most significant artistic figures of their time. From their grounding in the Bauhaus to their ongoing influence on contemporary art, their pioneering work not only bridges European and American modernism, but also continues to be relevant today. It is a great honor that the Foundation has entrusted us to help further their important legacies."
Nicholas Fox Weber, Executive Director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation states, "I considered my recent search for the ideal art gallery to represent The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation worldwide to be one of the most significant, possibly daunting, tasks of my forty years at the helm of this wonderful organization. What I thought would be difficult has proved to be a source of enormous pleasure. In David Zwirner, David Leiber, and others on the team of this wonderful art gallery, I have found people with the integrity, energy, passion for art, and human values that were dear to Josef and Anni alike. In 1971, the Alberses established, as the goal of our Foundation, 'the revelation and evocation of vision through art.' With our desire to perpetuate those intentions in places ranging from some of the poorest villages in rural Africa to the most sophisticated museums in great metropolises, we believe that David Zwirner and the gallery embody our interests with aplomb, professionalism, wisdom, and kindness."
Josef and Anni Albers met in 1922 at the Bauhaus, then located in Weimar, Germany, and were married in 1925, the same year that the school relocated to Dessau. Following the closure of the Bauhaus, when its remaining faculty members refused to re-open the school in compliance with the Third Reich, the couple emigrated to the United States in 1933, first settling in North Carolina, where they taught and helped to develop the design curriculum at Black Mountain College, at that time a noted site of avant-garde activity. After becoming U.S. citizens in 1939, Josef and Anni Albers traveled extensively together, spending time, in particular, in Mexico and the American Southwest. They remained at Black Mountain until 1950, when they moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where Josef Albers was invited to direct the department of design at Yale University School of Art.
Josef Albers (1888-1976) is considered one of the most influential abstract painters of the twentieth century, as well as an important designer and educator noted for his rigorously experimental approach to spatial relationships and color theory. He was born in Bottrop, Germany, and studied briefly at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich, in 1919 before becoming a student at the Bauhaus in 1920. In 1922, Josef Albers joined the school's faculty, first in the glass workshop, and, from 1923, teaching design in the legendary Bauhaus Preliminary Course.
In 1933, he and Anni Albers emigrated to North Carolina, and he began to show his work extensively within the United States, including solo exhibitions at the Addison Museum of American Art, Andover (1935); J.B. Neumann's New Art Circle, New York (1936, 1938); The Germanic Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge (1936); the Katharine Kuh Gallery, Chicago (1937); the San Francisco Museum of Art (1940); and the Nierendorf Gallery, New York (1941).
In 1949, he developed studies for what would become his seminal Homage to the Square series, which he continued to elaborate until his death in 1976. This body of work was featured in a major exhibition organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (by Kynaston McShine) in 1963 that traveled to 11 venues in the United States and 11 venues in Latin America. Josef Albers retired from teaching in 1958, prior to the publication of his important Interaction of Color (1963), a treatise on color studies and an essential handbook for artists and teachers. Published in 12 languages and in numerous editions (and reissued in an expanded format in 2013), the volume comprises a guide to how colors affect one another. Following numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, as well as his participation in documenta I (1955) and documenta IV (1968), he became the first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with his career-spanning retrospective there in 1971.
More recent exhibitions include Painting on Paper: Josef Albers in America, which originated at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, in 2010 (traveled to Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat, Bottrop, Germany; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Kunstmuseum Basel; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Centro de Arte Moderna, Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; and The Morgan Library and Museum, New York); and Josef Albers: Mimimal Means, Maximum Effect, at the Fundación Juan March, Madrid, in 2014 (traveled to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway).
Anni Albers (née Annelise Fleischmann; 1899-1994) was a textile artist, designer, printmaker, and educator known for her pioneering graphic wall hangings, weavings, and designs. She was born in Berlin, and studied painting under the tutelage of German Impressionist Martin Brandenburg from 1916 to 1919. After attending the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg for two months in 1920, she enrolled at the Bauhaus in 1922. She was assigned to the Weaving Workshop, and she came to approach the discipline with relentless experimentation, regularly incorporating nontraditional materials into her compositions. Upon completing her course of study there in 1929, Anni Albers joined the Bauhaus faculty. At Black Mountain College, she elaborated on the technical innovations she devised at the Bauhaus, developing a specialized curriculum that integrated weaving and industrial design. It was during this time that she began to avidly collect Pre-Columbian art, in particular textiles. In 1949, she became the first designer to have a one-person show at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the exhibition Anni Albers: Textiles subsequently traveled to 26 venues throughout the United States and Canada. Following the Alberses' move to New Haven, Anni Albers shifted her focus primarily to her workshop, spending the 1950s creating mass-reproducible fabrics (including a commission from Walter Gropius for Harvard University), writing, and developing her "pictorial weavings," culminating in the exhibition Anni Albers: Pictorial Weavings at the MIT New Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1959 (traveled to Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh; Baltimore Museum of Art; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; and Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston). In 1963, Anni Albers added printmaking to her artistic repertoire, working primarily in this medium from that point on. Her prints have been featured in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including Anni Albers. Bildweberei, Zeichnung, Druckgrafik at the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf in 1975 (traveled to Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin). A retrospective exhibition on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1999, organized by the Albers Foundation and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, traveled to the Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; and The Jewish Museum, New York.
Her seminal book On Weaving, published in 1965, helped to establish design studies as an area of academic and aesthetic inquiry and solidified her status as the single most influential textile artist of the twentieth century. Her writings on design, first published as On Designing in 1959, were reissued in 2000.
The works of Josef and Anni Albers have been featured both together and separately in exhibitions worldwide, most recently including A Beautiful Confluence: Anni and Josef Albers and the Latin American World, Mudec, Museo delle Culture, Milan, 2015-2016; and Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in 2015 (traveled to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and will be on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, from September 17, 2016 – January 1, 2017). Both artists are represented in major international public and private collections.