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Exhibition Review: Anni Albers at Tate Modern – 11 October 2018 to 27 January 2019

Tate Modern presents the UK’s first major retrospective of the work of Anni Albers (1899–1994). This exhibition brings together her most important works from major collections in the US and Europe, many of which will be shown in the UK for the first time. Albers’ work is not widely known and the exhibition explores the artist’s role in the Bauhaus movement and provides some recognition of Albers’ contribution to modern art and design.

The exhibition features over 350 objects including small-scale studies, large wall-hangings, jewellery and textiles designed for mass production.

Born in Berlin at the turn of the 20th century, Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann became a student at the Bauhaus in 1922, where she met her husband Josef Albers and other modernist figures like Paul Klee. She was discouraged to pursue a painting career but found that weaving textiles was a medium in which she excelled. It was within the Bauhaus weaving workshop that traditional hand-weaving began to be redefined as modern art.

The first room brings together the UK’s largest grouping of Albers’ weavings designed during this period, such as Wallhanging 1924 and Black White Yellow 1926, alongside studies, textile samples and works by Albers’ contemporaries, including the head of the Bauhaus weaving workshop Gunta Stölzl (1897-1983).

The creative crucible of the Bauhaus was curtailed with the rise of Nazism and Albers left Germany in 1933 for the USA where she taught at the experimental Black Mountain College for over 15 years. While she was at the college, she made frequent visits to Mexico, Chile and Peru, and amassed an extensive collection of ancient Pre-Columbian textiles.

Influenced by this collection, Albers began to create a series of ‘pictorial weavings’ including With Verticals 1946, Epitaph 1968 and Tikal 1958.

The artist began to explore the relationship between textiles and architecture illustrated in her seminal essay ‘The Pliable Plane: Textiles in Architecture’, 1957, in which Albers advocates the use of textile for decorative and functional spaces. In this section is works created for the Harvard Graduate Center, the Rockefeller Guest House in New York and Rena Rosenthal’s Madison Avenue store.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is Six Prayers 1966-67, Albers’ moving memorial commemorating the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, commissioned by the Jewish Museum in New York.

In the final rooms of the exhibition, there are a number of works that illustrate Albers’ writings such as ‘On Designing’ 1959 and ‘On Weaving’ 1965, in which she considers the history of weaving as a global phenomenon, going back thousands of years. Working from this long tradition, Albers’ work often pays homage to the past, yet is modern and original. Late works such as TR II 1970 and Red Meander I 1969-70 reveals her constant experimentation and development of her art.

This exhibition introduces the work of Anni Albers to a wider audience and raises a number of questions about how certain mediums are generally ignored by the wider art establishment. Albers work in the Bauhaus was part of a process that would allow traditional hand-weaving to be redefined as modern art. This process is still ongoing with the often blurred lines between art and craft both in the past and the present. Tate Modern are committed to showing artists working in textiles and Anni Albers provides a wonderful introduction into the medium. Her works and intellectual approach to the medium was to define it as modern art, it has just taken a long time for the art establishment to begin to define it in the same way.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

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Exhibition Review : Germany, Memories of a Nation at the British Museum – 16th Oct 2014 to 25th Jan 2015

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This exhibition  examines elements of German history from the past 600 years, from the Renaissance to reunification and beyond, the exhibition will use objects to investigate the complexities of German history.

The objects illustrate Germany’s many political changes and the many cultural and  technological achievements through the ages including  the Gutenberg Bible, Meissen porcelain, the Bauhaus movement and modern design icon the VW Beetle.

Considering the subject matter and the relative small size of the exhibition, the objects chosen to illustrate certain parts of the story of Germany have been considered very carefully. Many rare loans from Germany make up the collection, most of which have never been seen in the UK before.

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Starting at the reunification and pulling down of the Berlin Wall, the exhibition looks at some of the major German cultural achievements. From the production of the Gutenberg Bible in the 1450s, the printmaking of Albrecht Durer to the porcelain treasures of Meissen, Germany has often been at the forefront of European mass production of high quality objects.

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For over a millennia , Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire which was made up of a complex web  of cities, principalities and kingdoms. Political and trade alliances grew between some of these cities including the creation of the Hanseatic League  which was a forerunner of the Common Market.

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After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 19th century, there began a slow process of nation building in which ideas of German identity took centre stage. The lack of a dominant centre or court led to a great deal of patronage of the Arts , this led to a blossoming of German culture in which German writers, philosophers and composers were at the forefront of romantic and radical thinking.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  rose to become the most prominent writer and thinker of this period, his plays, poems and novels bought him international acclaim.

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If Germany’s cultural and commercial prestige was high in the 19th century, in the first half of the twentieth century it was their military might that would cast a shadow of Germany’s reputation in the world. The First and Second World Wars were disastrous for Germany and any flowering of cultural movements like Bauhaus was nipped in the bud.

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The exhibition has objects from the low point of German development, the door from Buchenwald  concentration camp a reminder that after the Second World War, the German economy and reputation lay in ruins. Not only that the country was divided by the Iron Curtain that was to be the fault line of the ideological Cold War.

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Nevertheless West Germany began to rebuild and within a relatively short time, once again became the economic powerhouse of Europe. It was also their position in the new Common Market that gave hope that European wars were the thing of the past.

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Even the problems of Reunification  have been gradually overcome ushering a new age of power and prosperity. It is symbolic that at the end of the exhibition is Ernst Balach’s  Der Schwebende  , a mourning figure designed as a memorial for those who died in the First World war and now the symbol of reconciliation.

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There will be a radio series ‘ Germany : Memories of a Nation on BBC Radio 4 that will accompany the exhibition.

Not in the exhibition itself but related to the subject matter is  Dürer’s paper triumph: the arch of the Emperor Maximilian in Room 3, it celebrates one of the most ambitious prints ever to be completed in the Western world. Printed from a staggering 195 woodblocks on 36 sheets of paper and measuring over 3.5 meters in height, The Triumphal Arch is one of the largest prints ever produced. Designed by the great German printmaker Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) at the pinnacle of his career, the Arch took three years to produce. It was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I (r. 1486–1519), to advertise his achievements.

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Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more or buy tickets, visit the British Museum website here

Tickets
Adults £10.00, Children free
16 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

Opening times
Open daily 10.00–17.30, Fridays until 20.30

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here