Practical Experiments in Textile Architecture. Anni Albers at the Tate ModernFrancesca Palange
Make sure you don’t miss the Anni Albers exhibition, which is on display in the Tate Modern’s spacious exhibition halls.
Here at NSN Magazine, when we showcase activities like weaving, we enjoy sharing the unique and personal interpretations, how the creations are designed to be used, and the choice of yarns.
Indeed, weaving is one of the oldest craft activities, often relegated to the female domain. For decades, this skilled practice was confined to passionate female weavers who defied modernity and industrialisation.
This exhibition invites us to reflect on the loom’s value and potential from the point of view of the Staatliches Bauhaus or, put simply, Bauhaus (1919-1933), the German school of art, architecture, and design. It was founded by Walter Gropius, who not only changed the course of art in the twentieth century, but also left an indelible mark on education – artistic and technical training – in the second half of the century.
Modernisminvolved the greatest artists of the twentieth century, and one of its key themes was the relationship between craft and industry, or work carried out manually and mechanically. This encompassed all fields, including the textile industry. As a consequence, across all domains, most of the attention is on innovation.
However, even here, women struggled to be admitted. Those who did, entered quietly; they found it hard to be accepted and were viewed with suspicion. The world of art, architecture and design – the disciplines considered most important – continues to be dominated by men.
However, Bauhausalso had a weaving division.
And it is here that Anni Albers (1899-1994) trained. The exclusion of women from other areas meant she was compelled to enrol on a weaving course. And so, she became a textile artist and designer.
The exhibition tells a story of experimentation and innovation; from her loom to her experiments with paper, from her woven samplers both big and small, to the yarns displayed, one after the other.
Observing the designs and creations, moving from room to room and reading the captions, you can see Anni Anders’ development from when she started her reluctantly chosen weaving course to completely mastering the loom. This took her down new, untrodden paths, enabled her to experiment with techniques and yarns, to move with ease between tradition and industrial-style innovation, and to break free of the confines of traditional weaving.
Of course, she never forgot tradition, which was prominent in her work when Nazism took hold and she ended up in the USA. Here, she established direct contact with the traditional weaving techniques of the Andean and Central American peoples.
But for Anni Anders, tradition was a foundation to innovate on. The depictions highlight the geometry of the pieces, the innovative way the yarns are unexpectedly matched together, both artificial and natural fibres.
For us at NSN Magazine, as we showcase the work of various weavers (for example, Franca Fantuzzi as she shows how to plan a project on paper during a very successful course; Teresa Mascia ‘Weaving the Future, One See at the Time’ featured in the Winter Issue 2016; Maria Voto ‘Against the Tide: The Legacy of Past Weavers Recollected in Gargano’s Loomery’ featured in the Autumn Issue 2016; Elina Airikkala ‘Weaving is My Music: When Weaving Becomes Art’ as featured in the Autumn Issue 2016), the exhibition challenges us to continue discussing arts and crafts and their constantly shifting and developing relationship with sustainability.
The latest issue of the print magazine packed with interviews and features on eco and heritage artists and artisans is available now.
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