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Anni Albers at New Britain Museum of American Art

Anni Albers is best known for her time in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus in Germany and later as a teacher at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. But that is only half of her story. In 1950, she and her husband Josef moved to Connecticut when Josef accepted a job at Yale University. Despite spending the rest of her life living on the outskirts of New Haven, many people outside of Connecticut don’t associate Anni Albers with the state. Yet she continued to weave, design and make art there until the end of her life in 1994. A new exhibit focusing on this period of her life is currently on view at New Britain Museum of American Art. In Thread and On Paper: Anni Albers in Connecticut explores the work she created during this period of her life.

The exhibit begins at the loom, literally, with a small loom used by Albers in the center of a gallery, complete with a warp begging to be woven. From there, the exhibit explores the journey Albers’ work took. Early art pieces, which she referred to as “pictorial weavings” are beautiful examples of work she described as letting “threads be articulate again and find a form for themselves to no other end.” Alongside these art pieces are samples designed over the years for production in the industry. The exhibit continues through to her later printmaking work which she embraced later in life.

Anni Albers & Materials

Whatever the medium Albers used, a common thread (pun intended) is her respect and understanding for materials. Whether she is working with thread or paper, Albers gets to know her materials intimately and allows them to speak for themselves. As she once wrote. “A good listener is told what to do by the material, and the material does not err.” For example, an entire series of prints are pure white. No ink at all. By simply using the press to emboss the paper, she created dimension and a sophisticated design. In other pieces, she started with one design and then printed multiple times in layers. The overlapping ink creating more colors. With very simple shapes, she created complex pieces by letting the materials do the talking.

Anni Albers was also incredibly committed to process and exploration. She loved machinery and learning to use a machine to its fullest. This passion is evident with the many examples of different printmaking techniques completed at a nearby press.. With pages of her notebooks on display, you get a glimpse into how Anni thought and worked. It’s clear from her notes she committed she would become to an idea. Then she explored that idea almost exhaustively.

Visiting the Museum

In Thread and On Paper: Anni Albers in Connecticut is on view at New Britain Museum of American Art through Sunday, September 13, 2020. Note that visitors are required to make a reservation ahead of their visit as they are limiting the number of people allowed inside at a time. Masks and social distancing are also required of all visitors. Can’t make it in person? Go on a virtual walkthrough of the exhibit.

In Thread and On Paper: Anni Albers in Connecticut, exhibition catalog
On Designing, Anni Albers

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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