Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction

Anni Albers. Free-Hanging Room Divider. c. 1949 491

Cotton, cellophane, and braided horsehair, 87 x 32 1/2" (221 x 82.5 cm). Gift of the designer. © 2021 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. They're made of a combination of cotton, cellophane and braided horse hair.

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 Peru.

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