Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Anni Albers, Cloth and Trade

This last few weeks have been busy and this does not look to change anytime soon. However in the midst of that I was able to take in the fabulous Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern. 
A leading artist of modernist abstraction movement, Albers was born in Berlin in 1899 of a Jewish family. After the rise of Nazism in the Germany which forced the famous Bauhaus school to close she fled to the USA with her husband Josef Albers where they founded the innovative Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

I first encountered Albers' work, through my engagement with tutor and mentor Janis Jefferies as a student at Maidstone College of Art. I have in my possession two seminal books from that period of time The Art Fabric ; Mainstream (1981) and Beyond Craft; The Art Fabric  written by Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larson and was thrilled to see such a large body of work in the flesh.

Her dominant concern as always been between medium and process and the exhibition at the Tate provides some of the best representations I have seen making to make that connection visible with samples of her own working process, students and colleagues work and clear references to the theory and practice of weaving.
Detail of Black, White and Yellow, (and below) woven by Gunta Stölzl 1965 under the direction of Anni Albers. The original 1926 version was thought to have been lost in the Second World War

The final rooms of the exhibition held ethnographic samples as well as drawings prints and textiles samples. These are evidence of the research undertaken for her seminal book 'On Weaving published in 1965.
Design for Unexecuted wallhanging 1926



 Room 6, The Pliable Plane explores the relationship between textiles and architecture


Painted effigy cloth, Cotton.  Peru 1100-1300



As stepped out of the exhibition I could see that the patterns and images of the world outside are so clearly reflected in the weaving samples inside the exhibition. I urge you, if there is one exhibition you see this year, see this one.It is on until 27th January 2019.


On a related note, the subject of cloth and clothing, product and consumption,  discussed in my current blogpost for Mr Xross Stitch, an Unfair Trade. There is also a feature review by Ailish Henderson of Textile Landscape






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