a too-conscious searching of your soul …

Anni Albers, 1964

If you have read my latest post you might also, like me, enjoy this excerpt from an 45 years old interview with Anni Albers (1968, July 5):

ANNI ALBERS: Well, I find that Pop art or Dada have tried to get away from this fine art barrier in a very healthy way, maybe. But that still it’s only breaking away to find . . . to free yourself for a new way of doing things, but that very often it’s not an end in itself.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. Would you say . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: What am I saying? I have to think. I’d better . . . . Sometimes one talks more easily than one thinks.

SEVIM FESCI: But would you say that an artist needs some discipline?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. Very much so. And I find that a craft gives somebody who is trying to find his way a kind of discipline. And this discipline was driven in earlier periods through the technique that was necessary for a painter to learn. In the Renaissance they had to grind their paints, they had to prepare their canvas or wood panels. And they were very limited really in the handling of the material. While today you buy the paint in any paint store and squeeze it and the panels come readymade and there is nothing that teaches you the care that materials demand.

SEVIM FESCI: The love of materials.

ANNI ALBERS: And it produces this too great quickness, I think.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. Not enough consideration involving the work . . . .

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. Yes. That’s it. When the painter or the weaver or someone has to prepare the material, you learn what the material tells you and what the technique tells you. While today . . .

SEVIM FESCI: There’s a sort of dialogue between you and the material.

ANNI ALBERS: And that frees you from this too-conscious searching of your soul which very often turns just into this kind of intestinal painting. It frees you and gets you away from a too-subjective way of work. And I think that art should be something that can last above the 30 years that Duchamp puts on a work of art. I don’t believe in that.


Anni Albers, Red Meander, 1954 Linen and cotton. (65 x 50 cm)

© 2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation


Anni Albers, Drawing from a notebook, 1970, Pencil on paper ©

2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation


SEVIM FESCI: Yes, I understand. But although, as you said, that it frees you from the subjective . . . .

ANNI ALBERS: From the too-subjective. You can’t avoid being subjective. But a kind of objectifying happens when you have to concentrate on the demands of the materials and the technique.


ANNI ALBERS: And I find that healthy and not limiting. And I still think that it really might be the salvation for many of those who dabble so easily in the too-readily-available materials.


– or, to quote Anne Carson: 

“Reality is a sound, you have to tune in to it not just keep yelling.”



Anni Albers (1899 – 1994) was a German-American textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century. Anni Albers came to the Bauhaus as a young student in 1922. Throughout her childhood in Berlin, she had been fascinated by the visual world, and her parents had encouraged her to study drawing and painting. Having been brought up in an affluent household where she was expected simply to continue living the sort of comfortable social life enjoyed by her mother, she showed great courage in going off to an art school where living conditions were rugged and the challenges immense. She entered the weaving workshop because it was the only one open to her, but soon found her way. She and Josef, eleven years different in age, met shortly after her arrival in Weimar. They were married in Berlin in 1925—and Annelise Fleischmann became Anni Albers. At the Bauhaus, Anni experimented with new materials for weaving and executed richly colored designs on paper for wall hangings and textiles in silk, cotton, and linen yarns in which the raw materials and components of structure became the source of beauty.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I like what she says here: “very often it’s not an end in itself”, which relates to how I perceive the way Duchamp’s legacy has developed. It’s a mistake, in my opinion, to imitate Duchamp. I’m guessing that Duchamp himself would have agreed with me.

  2. Kim says:

    this is wonderful.. and a possible answer to your art-question: art is listening? (“the dictation of the materials”; i like this.)

    1. Sigrun says:

      I find it very interesting too – and maybe it also can be translated into poetry?

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