Anni Albers at Alan Cristea, London
Anni Albers was one of the longest-living modernists of the Bauhaus school. She was nearly ninety-five when she died, and during her lifetime, she witnessed both world wars, the Cold War, and every social revolution imaginable. She also led an artistic revolution as well. During her lifetime, she made strides in breaking down the hierarchy between art and craft, and artistic and domestic labor. An intimate exhibition that is taking place at Alan Cristea Gallery in London highlights this through a collection of Alber’s prints she made during the 1960s and 1970s. These prints demonstrate the hallmarks of her technical skill and stylish verve that she brought to her other mediums, like her famous textiles.
Albers was a German artist and designer who rose to the ranks at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, she fled from the Nazis with her husband Josef Albers in the 1930s and took up residency at the renowned Black Mountain College. At this point, Albers was mostly known for her textiles, which were innovative in their bold in their use of color and abstract geometry. Her weavings and designs proved that craft labor was just as profound and beautiful as a painting or sculpture. It also was a rebuke to a patriarchal system that traditionally sidelined female creatives because skills such as sewing or weaving was seen as feminine or domestic labor. However, during the 1960s, Albers was introduced to printmaking. Up until then, Albers was not associated with prints at all, but eventually it became her main passion. Using complex layers of ink and beautiful papers, Albers created transcendent works that matched the skill of her woven pieces.
At this small Alan Cristea exhibition, these relatively small lithographs and screenprints pop with the color and mesmerizing pattern one would associate with Albers. The synergy of color creates various forms of visual movement. This doesn’t just recall the Bauhaus work of Albers, but of Op Art of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Albers shows that despite being in the latter half of her career, she was still influential in her field. She also was actively incorporating new ideas, like Op Art’s use of pattern, and Pop’s color palette and mechanical reproduction. Although this is a small show with only a few works, Albers proves her power and skill even in our present era.