Pliable Plane: Anni Albers
NEW CANAAN, Conn. (June 1, 2020) – The Glass House is pleased to introduce Pliable Plane, an occasional project series in which we invite an artist or designer to refashion the house’s interiors with site-responsive textiles. For the first in this series, named for a 1957 essay by Anni Albers about the relationship between textiles and architecture, The Glass House is collaborating with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation 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 June 1, 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.
About Anni Albers
Anni Albers (née Annelise Fleischmann; 1899–1994) is celebrated for her pioneering wall hangings, weavings, and designs. She is considered the most important textile artist of the 20th century, as well as an influential designer, printmaker, and educator. Born in Berlin, she studied weaving at the Bauhaus in 1922 and joined the faculty in 1929. She later taught at Black Mountain College, from 1933 to 1949, and spent her later years in Connecticut, designing innovative pictorial fabrics, writing, and exhibiting widely.
About the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
Located in Bethany, Connecticut, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation is devoted to preserving and promoting the enduring achievements of both Josef and Anni Albers, and the aesthetic and philosophical principles by which they lived. It serves as a unique center for the understanding and appreciation of the arts and of all visual experience—with the combined legacies of Josef and Anni Albers at its heart.
About Katharina Jebsen
Katharina Jebsen is a textile designer and weaver based in Leipzig, Germany. She has conducted intensive archival research into the material history of the Bauhaus weavers as well as related industrial histories dating back to the 19th century. Her recreations of these weavings are commissioned by several museums, institutions, and artists. She also creates experimental materials for textiles with an eye toward sustainability.
The Glass House, built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation located in New Canaan, CT. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises fourteen structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture, along with temporary exhibitions. The campus serves as a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art; and a canvas for inspiration and experimentation, honoring the legacy of Philip Johnson (1906 –2005) and his partner, David Whitney (1939 –2005). The tour season runs from April 16 through December 15 and advanced reservations are required. Private tours are available throughout the year. theglasshouse.org
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future, reimagining historic sites for the 21st century. The guiding principle of this initiative is that historic sites must be dynamic, relevant, and evolving to foster an understanding of history and culture that is critical, sensory, and layered.