Maneuver

Anni Albers, Camino Real, 1969, screenprint on paper, 23 1/2 x 22 inches
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 1994.11.6
Photo: Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art
© 2019 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Maneuver

Anni Albers
Polly Apfelbaum
Sarah Charlesworth
Zoe Leonard
Ed Rossbach
Rosemarie Trockel

curated by Lynne Cooke

Future Events:

December 16, 7pm

Anni Albers: A Conversation Among Friends

For this second part of artist Nancy Shaver’s engagement with Lynne Cooke’s exhibition Maneuver at the Artist’s Institute, she will join in a discussion about Anni Albers with a circle of friends: artist Robert Gober, textile designer and Senior Critic in the Textiles Department at the Rhode Island School of Design Lisa Scull, and artist Sterrett Smith.  Tickets are sold out, but those interested in attending should e-mail rsvp@theartistsinstitute.org to be placed on the waiting list.

The Artist’s Institute will host special viewing hours for Maneuver from 5 to 6:30pm before the talk. Please note the talk will take place at Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, North Building, Room 1527.

A Second Introduction: Maneuver

The first introduction to Anni Albers took place at Henry, my shop in Hudson, New York, on September 8, 2019. Henry is dedicated to memory, surface, texture, compounding thoughts, generational review, and conversation among friends. This is the second introduction to Albers, a presentation of thoughts about aspects of Anni Albers’s work.

Anni Albers is a weaver-artist whose work, in spite of gender-craft bias, has been passed down to fellow artists and absorbed by them. Her work continues to accrue visual attention as our social and political boundaries expand.

“To open eyes”

This is a favorite phrase to describe the job of art by her husband, Josef Albers. Art should function “to open eyes.” I read “open” in this phrase as both an adjective and a verb.

Anni Albers’s term pliable plane spans sculptural, architectural, and painting issues. This definition was coined by her to describe her craft, the discipline of weaving.

Had this term pliable plane been familiar to me as a student of art, it would have, could have, expanded or totally changed my understanding of the nature of fabric. Fabric that Albers defined as matière: raw material. Had this term come out of the mouth of Donald Judd I would have known of it. This idea would have, could have, been a part of my art education.

Fabric is a commonplace word, commonplace both as a metaphor and as a description of a pliable plane. Textiles are pliable planes. Textiles have been part of our existence since we woke up in the garden (or did we?).

Textiles are singular art forms in many cultures, expressions of love and beauty. Anni Albers invested her lifetime of thinking and making into the endless expanse of fabrics. Both historical and future applications were part of her study. Textiles, a major form in our existence, became her art form.

Robert Gober, Lisa Scull, Sterrett Smith, and I have conversations about matters of thinking and making. We will all be thinking aloud, in conversation, about what we have learned thanks to Anni Albers.

I am looking forward to conversation among friends about Anni Albers.

—Nancy Shaver

Past Events:

November 4, 2pm, RSVP

Visit with Elena Phipps to Anni Albers's textiles at the Brooklyn Museum

In 1950, Anni Albers gave the Brooklyn Museum thirty-seven textile samples—including fabric swatches for drapery and wall covering material—made from processed and raw silks, cotton, chenille, twilled yarns, plus cellophane, metallic threads, and rayon. The gift also included ten “texture” studies made of materials like grass and seed pods, cotton tufts, and fringed paper. It is thought that these “texture” studies originated from Albers’s classes at Black Mountain College, where from 1933 to 1949 she was head of the weaving department.

On Monday, November 4 at 2pm, we will go to see Albers’ studies in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum with renowned textile scholar Elena Phipps. Phipps will talk about the significance of these materials to Albers’ work, and we will carefully examine their material qualities. Due to limited space, this event is RSVP only. To attend, please e-mail rsvp@theartistsinstitute.org.

Elena Phipps worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for over 34 years as Senior Museum Conservator and is the past President of the Textile Society of America. She currently teaches in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA.

October 14, 12pm

Field trip to Henry with Nancy Shaver

In conjunction with Lynne’s Cooke’s exhibition Maneuver at the Artist’s Institute this fall, we’ve invited artist Nancy Shaver to organize a few events inspired by Anni Albers’ life and work. The first is a visit to Henry, the store that Shaver has owned and operated for the past twenty years in Hudson, New York. On Monday, October 14th, Shaver and her business partner Robin Greeson will host us at Henry for a talk about the shop in relation to Albers’ thinking. Round-trip transportation is provided at cost, for $40; we will depart from New York at 9:30am and return by 6:30pm. Due to space constraints, this event is RSVP, on a first-come, first-serve basis. To attend or for further information, please e-mail rsvp@theartistsinstitute.org. An introduction from Nancy Shaver:

 

Artists’ Work. “to open eyes”*

clear plastic slipcovers for the washer and dryer

It has not been easy to absorb Anni Albers, or Anni Albers’ work, into my thought. It has been a struggle. Mostly because an authoritarian idea of perfection as a stance, a lens, makes me so intellectually and intuitively nervous; itchy in fact. But in opposition to this state of mind, the visual facts of perfect craftsmanship in Anni Albers’ weavings are palliative.

Boundaries and improvisation within the constraints of warp and weft formed Albers’ Monte Alban, 1936, Epitaph, 1968, and later, there were similar constraints in the printing process in Line Involvement III, 1964. The wonder of the work is based on the manipulation of threads that form a visual: a written-woven text that is so readable and unreadable at the very SAME time. This is transformative.

I have enormous respect for the clarity of process and the absolute clarity of her articulation of process in On Weaving. I respect how such clean boundaries and such clear definition of boundaries—her knowledge of set limitations—opens, within these boundaries, a limitless field of possibilities.

Many artists use this method and have discovered similar formulas for work—for observing the world. Perhaps this clarity and specific attention in choosing facts or materials makes artists’ work visible. Perhaps this process of gathering facts and materials is the connective tissue, regardless of the look of the product, artist to artist, through the maze of history.

Anni Albers work is woven as a tangible textile, a literal fabric. It is also pure metaphor: woven and fabric.

clear plastic slipcovers for the washer and dryer

My approach to Anni Albers is through the contrary. The contrary, to my mind, is always a part of the “what is.”

The existence of my shop Henry in Hudson, New York is contrary. I will present Henry as part of “what is,” and as opposite to it, with the understanding that the visual is a language that unites us as artists. That again, to quote Josef Albers, that artists’ work is to “open eyes.” That visual language is broadcast by artists. Artists connect to the fabric of living, the fabric of art through specific observation. Specific observations are as tight as warp and weft.

Through studying and thinking about Anni Albers’ thought processes, I have gained clarity about the contrary issues that drive my own work.

clear plastic slipcovers for the washer and dryer

Other artists have led me to the work of Anni Albers. This is part of the exploration, how connections are made through a network, based on visual curiosity and love of process. Conversation with peers about the visual is a way of learning. There will be a conversation amongst friends about the work of Anni Albers.**

clear plastic slipcovers for the washer and dryer

Back to Henry, my shop in Hudson, New York. It is packed with both the hand-made material and the industrial; all are cultural revelations that occur through history. Reading in Anni Albers by Nicholas Fox Weber and Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi for the Guggenheim Museum, I learned that Anni Albers had great love for historical hand-made textiles and was attracted to the vast industrial production and use of textiles, which is a fact that joins Henry and my thinking about art to the work and thoughts of Anni Albers.

She created slip covers of clear plastic for her washer and dryer. Real slip covers, like countless women have and use to protect their furniture. I will end here for now, with this perfect image that connects observation, use, the ordinary, and art: Anni Albers made slipcovers for her washer and dryer.

clear plastic slipcovers for the washer and dryer

*Josef Albers in Josef + Anni Albers: Designs for Living by Nicholas Fox Weber (New York: Cooper-Hewitt Museum 2004).
**More on this particular conversation later.

September 18, 6pm–8pm

Exhibition Opening

Join us for the opening of Maneuver, curated by Lynne Cooke.