On Weaving, Anni Albers
Over 50 years after initial publication Anni Albers’ treatise on weaving, aptly titled On Weaving, remains one of the most insightful and intriguing books on the subject ever written. The legendary Bauhaus textile designer’s work is recently revised and republished. This beautiful new hardcover edition updates the original black and white illustrations with full-color photographs and includes essays written by Nicholas Fox Weber, Manuel Cirauqui, and T’ai Smith that share personal recollections of Anni as well as comments on her enduring legacy to the art world.
This book is wonderful. It looks and feels almost like a textbook, but a textbook that I actually want to read (and reread) cover to cover. There are illustrations and photographs including drafting notations, early techniques of thread interlacing, tapestry construction, ancient Peruvian tapestries, European textiles, some work of Anni’s contemporaries, and of course some of Anni’s own weavings.
It is fun to see the inspiration she drew from ancient pieces and how she translated the colors, lines, and movement in her own, modern way.
I especially loved the chapter on the history of looms in which Anni traces the evolution from handlooms to modern power looms. Her discussion on how technological improvements in looms may have increased textile production, but also limited the creativity and ingenuity of the hand weaver were good food for thought.
The accompanying images of looms were fascinating too, ranging from the earliest known representation of a loom on a piece of predynastic Egyptian pottery from ca. 3700 B.C. all the way to a photograph of a modern (in 1965) weaving room where one person was supervising the weaving of close to one hundred looms at a time.
In the introductory note, Anni first describes what her book is not. She calls it incomplete, saying, it is not “a guide for weavers or would-be weavers,” it is not “a summary of textile achievement, past or present.” Her impetus for the book was to comment on “some textile principles underlying some evident facts.” Of course it would be impossible to cover all of the history, techniques, and applications of fiber arts in one book, but Anni doesn’t need to. Despite her humble forewarnings, On Weaving - New Expanded Edition is a comprehensive and compelling read for any fiber artist.
A classic reference for every weaver, and a thoughtful gift for any lover of great design!
If you are lucky enough to be near London this winter (or want a reason to take a trip!) the Tate Modern will feature a major exhibition of Albers’ work from October 11, 2018 to January 27, 2019.
Related items of interest: • Weaving Books