Anni Albers' Fabric of Belief at the Tate.
Two versions of the voluminous weaving "Black White Yellow" hang in Tate Modern's beautifully installed retrospective, Anni Albers, on view in London through Jan. 27, 2019, part of a worldwide commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. Conceptualized at Bauhaus Dessau in 1926, the work was conceived as a simple geometric sequence with overlapping strips of cotton and silk; the blending colors created the impression of rungs on a ladder or stairs. Like any patterned textile, you come to know its artistic rhythms, strategies, and irregularities with patience and over time. But let your eyes glide across the interwoven vertical and horizontal bands, going up or down in a series of steps and hops, and you feel the authority and honesty of its design and designer.
Anni Albers, born Annelise Elsa Frieda Fleischmann in 1899, liked to think back to the early Bauhaus, remembering that when she came as a student in 1922 it was the "period of the saints," everyone wearing what looked like handmade, "baggy white dresses and saggy white suits." The Bauhaus was a collaborative experiment, pitting youthful energy and idealism against the despair and purposelessness that followed World War I. As she put it in her classical and balanced prose (she had learned Englishthis included the words "guinea pig"as a child, from an Irish governess), "What had existed had proved to be wrong; everything leading up to it seemed to be wrong, too."
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