Opening next month at Tate Modern in London, this extensive retrospective covers 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 travels to London from Düsseldorf, where it was on view from June 9–September 9, 2018.
This exhibition takes 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, 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 current 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.
Images: Installation view, Anni Albers, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2018.
Cover Image: Anni Albers, c. 1930–1933 (detail). Photo: Josef Albers. © 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York