National Museum of Women in the Arts
Anni Albers
June 12 1899 - May 09 1994
Photograph of Anni Albers, 1964, unknown photographer. 6 x 4 inches (13 x 11 cm). Tamarind Lithography Workshop records, 1954-1984. Archives of American Art, Washington, DC, USA.
Place of Birth:
American, German
Phonetic Spelling:
AN-ee AL-berrs
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Decorative and utilitarian works, Drawings and prints, Painting, Textiles and clothing
Artistic Role(s):
Designer, Furniture Designer, Lithographer, Painter, Printmaker, Textile Artist, Weaver
Constructivism, Other
Artist's Biography:
Bahaus artist Anni Albers was a pioneer in the twentieth century Modernist fabric design. Working from her intricate designs in gouache on graph paper, she created pictorial weavings with spatially and texturally complex configurations. Albers, who constantly experimented with new materials and techniques believed that weaving, far more than a utilitarian craft, was an expressive, tactile art form with aesthetic value. From flat symmetrical bands of muted colors to complex, brilliantly colored schemas, her work reveals the intrinsic structural components of color and form.

Albers was brought up in an affluent family in Berlin where she was encouraged to study drawing and painting. In 1922, she enrolled as a student at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, where she met her future husband Josef Albers, already a well-known painter and teacher. The Bauhaus, among whose members were Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Walter Gropius, was renowned for its innovation in modern design. By eliminating the distinction between fine arts and the applied arts, Bauhaus artists wanted to unify art, craft, and technology. Although Albers was assigned to the weaving workshop merely to fulfill requirements, she was quickly drawn to the challenges of textile construction, and eventually became a Bauhaus instructor and director of the weaving workshop.

To escape the tightening Nazi rule, the Albers moved to North Carolina in 1933 where both assumed teaching positions at the newly established educational community, Black Mountain College. Albers traveled widely with her husband and moved first to New York then to New Haven, Connecticut, all while teaching, writing (On Designing, 1959, and On Weaving, 1965), exhibiting, studying, and expanding her artistic repertoire. Using cotton chenille, white plastic thread, shimmering synthetic fibers, dust-repellent finishes, and other non-traditional materials, she created a versatile array of work from industrial furniture designs for Knoll International to draperies and bedspreads in Walter Gropius’s Harvard University Graduate Center. In 1949, Albers was the first weaver to have a solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art.

Weaving aside, Albers also explored various printmaking techniques starting in 1963, including lithography and screenprinting. Her prints similarly involve complex geometric forms and patterns. Albers was the last surviving teacher of the Bauhaus.

Other Occupation(s):
Author, Instructor, Lecturer, Teacher, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Where Trained/Schools:
Bauhaus, Dessau and Weimar, Germany (1922-1930) Kunstgewerbeschule, Hamburg, Germany (1920)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Josef Albers student of Vassily Kandinsky student of Paul Klee student of Martin Brandenburg
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Gold Medal, American Crafts Council, New York, NY, USA (1980) Lifetime Achievement Award, Women's Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (1980) Fellowship, Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, CA, USA (1964)
Earliest exhibition:
BauHaus (1919-1928), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (1938)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Women Artists of the New Deal Era: A Selection of Prints and Drawings
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Artist retrospective(s):
The Woven and Graphic Art of Anni Albers, Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC, USA (1985)
Related places
Orange (died at)