This work by Anni Albers was created in the year 1928. It is not a completed work, but rather a sketch, which Albers later planned to create a textile piece from. It is titled simply Design for a rug for a child’s room, 1928. This work differs slightly from much of the other work done by Albers in that it is more Constructivist in nature. It is experimental in its nature, and it plays with colors and patterns later to be used in the creation of a work that is used for a practical purpose rather than as fine art.
Albers was a German artist who is most well known as a student of the famous Bauhaus school, a liberal art school located in Germany during the 1920’s. Anni Albers, like much of the Bauhaus artists, used everyday materials to create modern art. This was not fine art in nature, but work that often had a practical use, and above all glorified the materials from which it was created over the subject matter that it displayed.
Anni Albers was one of the better known women of the Bauhaus, and she worked in the school of textiles. She created both works to be seen as fine arts and items to be used in everyday life. All of her works incorporate the Bauhaus principles of modern design; her works are simple and geometric patterns picked for their primary purpose of celebrating the modern materials used to create them.
This particular work of Albers’s is a sketch, goache on paper, of a design for a child’s rug. The rug is geometric, consisting basically of a multi-colored grid of small squares, all nearly identical in size. It was modern in its use of geometric shapes to create a pattern rather than relying on the pictorial narratives that were expected before this point in time. The colors are simple primary colors and values, yet Albers instills within them a complexity by inflicting slight alterations in the shades. We see ranges of deep to sky blues, rich reds and burnt tones, and strong yellows accompanied by pastel shadows of the same color. To offset all of these Albers includes black, white, and grey values. While we today associate these simplistic shapes and primary colors with children’s things, it was far more unusual at the time that this work was created. The intensity of the colors creates a work that is still dynamic even in its simplicity. The gridded nature of the work would, again, glorify the materials in the finished project by presenting the intricate weaving used to create the piece. Again the work remains modern in its decision to reject the notion of a traditional focal point, instead allowing an allover composition to please the viewer’s eye.
This piece is unique to the environment in which it was created because it represents the new notion that art did not need to be purely for aesthetic purposes. The Bauhaus sought to elevate the craftsman to the level of an artist, and one way that they went about accomplishing that was by creating works that were useful but still had beauty and depth. Here Albers intends to create a work that is not meant to collect dust on a shelf or fade away on a blank wall. She creates a work that is meant to be useful and bring the user pleasure in its beauty. It encompasses the Bauhaus ideal of making work that glorifies materials by making the work out of modern, durable material. This material is not precious, therefore separates itself from traditional art, again done to give artists and craftsmen the same status. This work is highly effective at communicating the ideals of Albers and the rest of the Bauhaus.
Webber, Nicholas Fox, Anni Albers. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1999.