Collection 1880s–1940s

Anni Albers. Free-Hanging Room Divider. 1949 543

Cellophane and cord, 94 x 32 1/2" (238.7 x 82.5 cm). Gift of the designer. © 2023 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Juliet Kinchin: Anni Albers was one of the most daring and imaginative weavers working in the United States in the 1940s. In these dramatic room dividers, she really created a sense of translucent space, typically mixing synthetic and organic fibers.

She talked about the need to actually listen to your materials, but also to kind of struggle with them. Weaving with cellophane was a tricky thing to achieve, and it required great persistence and slow engagement with the material. That sense of resistance in the materials was one of the factors which she dealt with in this very dynamic way.

She was also thinking about their ultimate function, the way they were located in an architectural setting. These functioned as space dividers for contemporary open plan rooms. She was very clear that the objective must be to somehow achieve a balance between decoration and dull utility. Also, it was important, she felt, to avoid bulkiness.

She created a sense of space using this distinctive open weave that she had studied very carefully in the ancient art of the Americas, in particular, the weaving traditions of per.