Editor's Note

Cover of Tate Etc. issue 44: Autumn 2018

Was ist das, girl? the teacher asked the student who was sitting on the floor using a makeshift backstrap loom. The teacher was Josef Albers, then the influential head of design at the Yale School of Art, and the student was Sheila Hicks, who had taken up weaving to learn more about pre-Incaic textiles. This encounter took place in the mid-1950s – a time when weaving was still a relatively marginalised discipline. Perhaps recognising a kindred spirit, Albers went on to tell Hicks that his wife Anni was also ‘interested in this kind of thing’ and introduced them, as Hicks recounts.

By this time Anni Albers already had several decades of experience to her name, having been a key force in her field (along with Gunta Stölzl) during her stint in the Bauhaus, as well as being the first designer to stage a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1949. However, it is only now that Albers is finally receiving global recognition for being the pioneering artist that she was, as the forthcoming retrospective at Tate Modern will reveal. Not only a consummate teacher of her discipline, she also revitalised the ancient craft, creating beautiful works of art to rival any of those made by her painterly contemporaries.

The work of the late-Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones may seem a world away from that of Anni Albers, yet one imagines that his wish to democratise the arts would have found favour with her. Like Albers, he defied the traditional methods taught in art schools of the day and, as the curator of Tate Britain's exhibition writes, ‘developed his own idiosyncratic practice by disregarding the intrinsic properties of a medium and following his own instincts.’ From the loose brushwork to the compositions conjured by his strange imagination, this impulse is what makes his art seem so fresh today. It might also explain why his legacy endures in the work of contemporary artists such as Elizabeth Peyton, just as Albers’s rigorous attitude to art and life continues to speak to new generations.

Contents

Anni Albers: Weaving Magic

Briony Fer

As a student at the Bauhaus in Germany in the early 1920s, Anni Albers found artistic freedom in the weaving ...

In Focus: Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled (London Bridge) 2017

Mark Godfrey

A recent painting of London Bridge (in Lake Havasu City, Arizona) by Kerry James Marshall, on display at Tate Britain ...

Portfolio: Rotimi Fani-Kayode – Desire In Exile

Mark Sealy

Rotimi Fani-Kayode arrived in Brighton aged 11 in 1966, having fled Nigeria’s civil war. After coming out as gay, he ...

Lives of the Artists: Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff

Michel Remy

Introducing the British surrealists who formed a fascinating and unsettling partnership

Jesse Darling: The Ballad of Saint Jerome

Jesse Darling

Tate Etc. hears from the artist on the eve of their Art Now exhibition at Tate Britain

My encounters with Anni Albers

Sheila Hicks

‘I don't think I understood her work back then, but now I have a better notion of what it was ...

Anni Albers’s quiet force

Duro Olowu

‘The passing of time has allowed her to be understood as the great and prolific artist she was; a quiet ...

Connecting with Anni Albers

Leonor Antunes

‘It's rare to see an artist that has done so much research into an area and yet is able to ...

In the Archive: Messages to our Mums

Daisy Johnson

The writer visits the Tate Archive and discovers a project by Yoko Ono that gathered hundreds of people’s intimate homages ...