Guest Edited by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden
The Kunstmuseum in The Hague, The Netherlands recent exhibition, Anni & Josef Albers, was on display until 15 January 2023.
Showcasing the work of the famous German couple, Anni and Josef Albers, who were deeply involved in the Staatliches Bauhaus, which was founded by designer Walter Gropius (1883-1969). The institute became more widely known as the Bauhaus and was in operation between 1919 to 1933. The Bauhaus emphasised the unification of individual artistic and design visions, with everyday function and mass production.
Anni Albers actually wanted to study and produce embroidery, but Gropius was mainly interested in more graphic forms and regarded embroidery as being too feminine and curvy! Apparently he insisted that if she wanted to study textiles it had to be the more (masculine) subject of woven forms, which she duly did and became famous for her flat, woven designs.
The woven textiles associated with the Albers that were on display included initial drawings, trial pieces as well as end products. Many of the designs are flat and graphic in appearance and in line with the Bauhaus aesthetic and values. But I must admit, I particularly liked the series of five panels of gold coloured threads of various types. It is noticeable that the panels were placed at slightly different heights so they responded to the light in various manners. Was this Anni Albers producing a more textured (embroidered?) form of cloth despite Gropius or had the times changed and there was a growing interest in texture and movement that reflects social, technical and economic developments? An interesting exhibition!
It is well worth looking back at this exhibition to consider different approaches to the study, production and use of textiles and garments, and indeed how they can inspire designers, artists, makers and viewers.
Ani and Josef Albers, Kunstmuseum