Anni Albers Deserves Space on the A-List of Art
THE DAILY PIC: At the Yale University Art Gallery, Anni Albers's weavings come off as more daring than Josef's paintings.
THE DAILY PIC (#1789): This is Thickly Settled, a 1956 weaving by Anni Albers that’s included in “Small-Great Objects: Anni and Josef Albers in the Americas,” at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven. It’s great that, over recent years, Anni has started to get some recognition of her own, and not just as her famous husband’s helpmeet. But looking at the works of both artists side-by-side, in the Yale show, a more radical idea came to me: Maybe Anni’s actually the better, more daring artist of the two. He just made paintings in the grand old European tradition, and his squares-within-squares were hardly a giant departure from all of modernism’s other geometric abstractions. Whereas Anni’s accomplishment seems more far-ranging, with deep and respectful ties to the non-European art that’s in the Yale show. Her work in textiles and jewelry seems a bigger departure from what Europeans had made before in either discipline—and braver, anyway, just by virtue of embracing such “minor” arts.
Over the last 30 years, women have been allowed to enter the art-historical canon, more or less, now and then. But they’ve almost never been given space on the A-list, or been made to actually displace the hallowed names of men who were there already. Maybe it’s time that Anni rose and Josef fell, just a rung or two, on the ladder of fame. (Collection of Yale University Art Gallery, © 2016 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
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