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This work is a wall hanging, created in 1925, is the work of German artist Anni Albers, who was an important figure in the Bauhaus School of art.  The Bauhaus is known for its role in creating productive art and art that sought to relay its messages through the use of simple, geometric forms and pure colors rather than traditional pictorial works created previous to that time.  The Bauhaus school also served as a strong advocate for the art world acting as a community, and implemented this practice by pushing its students to work on projects in conjunction with other disciplines in the school to create one greater and more complete work of art.

Anni Albers was one of the most prominent artists in the school of textiles, and is well known for her use of geometric abstraction in weavings.  This particular work is a textile creation created for aesthetic rather than practical purposes, and it is created from a combination of silk and wool.

This work, perhaps more than other works by Albers, shows the strong influence of De Stijl on modern art, in this case the Bauhaus.  De Stijl was an early 20th century movement by group of Dutch artists who sought to find a connective law of harmony and balance between life and art.[1]  Aesthetically, the works in this movement are generally a grid-like series of geometric forms of varying sizes. In this Bauhaus work, Albers creates a minimalist work that consists almost entirely of horizontal lines. Where this work really identifies with De Stijl, however, is in its use of six small vertical lines, which are almost proportioned as squares. De Stijl was a movement that insisted on a painstaking attention to balancing details, yet did believed that a balanced work did not have to be symmetrical.  The lines in Albers’s wall hanging, both horizontal and vertical, vary in size and visual weight, yet they come together to create a sense of harmony within the work.  De Stijl’s founder, Dutch artist Theodore van Doesburg, spent some time in Germany and held some lectures for Bauhaus students between the years of 1921 and 1923, so it is quite likely that Albers was directly influenced by the ideas behind De Stijl.[2]

This use of geometric abstraction to create a balanced work was a central theme in both De Stijl and the Bauhaus, and both of these movements believed that this geometric abstraction could be a universal language that transcended material culture.

The primary difference between the work of the Bauhaus artists and De Stijl artists was the level of strictness and meaning given to their work.  While the Bauhaus artists did see a deep level of meaning in their quest to make truly modern and relevant art, they did not hold the same level of spiritual connection to their work that the De Stijl artists did.  For example, De Stijl artists were picky about what sort of lines were included in their works because they felt that they had different meanings and connections to their lives. [3] They were also nearly completely insistent on the use of primary colors.  The Bauhaus artists tended to favor primary colors as well but, as we can see in this particular work of Albers, that was not always the case. [4] This is likely due to the fact that the artists of the Bauhaus were more concerned with an object’s design and function than its spirituality.

Albers, like other Bauhaus artists, plays with the design aspect of this object by juxtaposing the strong colors of the vertical lines against the more neutral colors of the horizontal lines, all in an effort to create a dynamic piece without the use of pictures or narratives.  Like many of her other works, this juxtaposition implies a sense of movement, and again her use of geometric forms does well to highlight the geometric patterns inherent in the material process of weaving.

This highlighting of materials is a central theme in the art of the Bauhaus school, and one that Anni Albers was careful to incorporate into all of her works.  Like other Bauhaus artists, Albers understood the importance of her materials and allowed them to help determine her geometric design.  It is this choice that ties Albers’s work to the Bauhaus ideals, and enshrines her in history as a true artist of the Bauhaus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Theo van Doesburg,” accessed April 21, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/167638/Theo-van-Doesburg.

 

Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “De Stijl,” accessed April 21, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/566242/De-Stijl.

 

“Galleries.” The Joseph and Anni Albers Foundation. http://www.albersfoundation.org/Albers.php?inc=Galleries&g=a174


[1]  Britannica Online Encyclopedia, s. v. “De Stijl.”

 

[2] Britannica Online Encyclopedia, s. v. “Theodore Van Doesburg.”

[3] Britannica Online Encyclopedia, s. v. “De Stijl.”

[4]Galleries, The Joseph and Anni Albers Foundation, http://www.albersfoundation.org/Albers.php?inc=Galleries&g=a174

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