Pliable Plane: Anni Albers
Pliable Plane is a new series in which we invite an artist or designer to refashion the house’s interiors with site-responsive textiles. For the first in this occasional series, named for a 1957 essay by Anni Albers about the relationship between textiles and architecture, The Glass House and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation are collaborating to create a new bedspread and window panels based on original works by Anni Albers and installed in the transparent pavilion’s sleeping area.
Trained at the Bauhaus where she later taught, Albers is one of the most important abstract artists of the twentieth-century and celebrated for her pioneering wall hangings, weavings, and designs. Albers forged a friendship and professional collaboration with architect Philip Johnson, who organized an invitation for Albers and her husband to teach at the newly founded Black Mountain College in North Carolina after meeting the couple in 1932 in Berlin. In 1949, Johnson co-curated Anni Albers: Textiles, the first solo exhibition by a designer at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Johnson also commissioned Albers to create drapery material for the Rockefeller Guest House (1949–1950), built as a private showcase for Blanchette Rockefeller’s modern art collection on East 52nd Street in Manhattan.
Beginning on April 16, the customary cotton bedspread in the Glass House will be temporarily replaced by a new bedspread made from Albers’ Eclat pattern, commercially introduced by Knoll in 1976. Albers began what would become a 30-year collaboration with the Knoll Textiles Department at the invitation of Florence Knoll in 1951. Prints and textile samples related to Albers’ design process will be on view in the foyer of the Glass House’s Painting Gallery.
Later in the season, newly fabricated window panels that approximate the Rockefeller Guest House drapery material will be installed in the Glass House, following Johnson’s tradition of hanging woven sliding panels to provide relief from the sun. The new window panels will be hand-loomed by Leipzig-based textile designer Katharina Jebsen following an intensive research process in which Jebsen analyzes the original textile and reconstructs the patterning and feeling of the fabric using contemporary materials. The research and design process will be documented and shared with the public via The Glass House’s digital platforms.
The project is organized by Cole Akers, Curator and Special Projects Manager, The Glass House, in collaboration with Brenda Danilowitz, Chief Curator, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
A related exhibition organized by the Albers Foundation — In Thread and On Paper: Anni Albers in Connecticut — will be on view at the New Britain Museum of American Art from March 19 to June 14, 2020. For more information, visit https://www.nbmaa.org/exhibitions/anni-albers.