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Anni Albers

Annelise Albers (née Fleischmann) (June 12, 1899 – May 9, 1994)was a German-American textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century.  Albers was born Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann in Berlin. Her mother was from an aristocratic family in the publishing industry and her father was a furniture maker. Even in her childhood, she was intrigued by art and the visual world. She painted during her youth and studied under an impressionist from 1916 to 1919, but was very discouraged from continuing after a meeting with artist Oskar Kokoschka, who upon seeing a portrait of hers asked her sharply “Why do you paint?” She eventually decided to attend art school, even though the challenges for art students were often great and the living conditions harsh.  Such a lifestyle sharply contrasted the affluent and comfortable living that she had been used to.  Albers attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg for only two months in 1920, though eventually made her way to the Bauhaus at Weimar in April 1922.

Printmaker and textile artist Anni Albers is widely recognized both for her geometric patterned compositions and deep involvement with the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College, teaching at the latter between 1933 and 1949. Albers arrived at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany in 1922, but was limited in the coursework she could pursue as certain disciplines were not taught to women. Although she began weaving almost by default, Albers became among the 20th century’s defining “pictorial” textile artists. At the Bauhaus she studied under painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, focusing on relationships between colors and the expressive potential of simple forms. She then married leading Bauhaus figure and renowned color theorist Josef Albers in 1925. In addition to frequent conversations with her many friends and colleagues, Albers drew inspiration from the pre-Columbian art she viewed during travels throughout Mexico and the Americas.

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