Anni Albers is undeniably the most influential and best known textile designer of the 20th century. Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve definitely seen her work and its influence before and we’d be kidding ourselves if we couldn’t admit that she has inspired some of the sock designs in our own collection. Graphic, bright and iconic, Anni’s work was fearlessly experimental and groundbreaking.
She was born in 1899 in Berlin, with a rebellious spirit that led her to stray from the conventionally restrictive expectations for women of her time. In her late teens she persuaded her father to allow her to attend art school, and after some hopping around, she applied for and enrolled in the radical Bauhaus art school. It was there, that she found her medium by accident. Anni initially wanted to be a painter. But because she was a woman, she was denied access to painting classes and so, like many other women in the school, ended up in the weaving workshop. She fell in love with Josef Albers, a fellow student 11 years her senior. He would go on to become one of the most important artists of the mid-20th century, and she would become the most prolific and accomplished in textiles. They fled to America in the 30’s to escape the Nazi regime and continued their long, successful careers working, writing and teaching there.
Anni’s work is iconic in its use of dynamic patterns and bold colour combinations. She combined natural and synthetic fibers and incorporated non-traditional materials into her work, and her obsession and interest in abstraction guided her through her long, illustrious career. Moving from the loom, to lithography and screen printing, and even dabbling in jewellery, her intimidatingly hefty body of work projected weaving and textiles into the canon of western 20th century fine art.
And that, friends, is why Anni Albers rules.
Read more about Anni on the Albers Foundation website.