Anni Albers

The Jewish Museum

POOR ANNELISE ELSE FRIEDA FLEISCHMANN. Born a century ago into a mercantile German-Jewish home, she, like so many before and after, thought she could detour from the well-trodden path of mother and homemaker and become an artist. So the gaunt Berlin teenager took a portrait of her mother to Oskar Kokoschka, who asked dismissively: “Why do you paint?” Undaunted, she responded to a leaflet for a new art school, was rejected, and then applied again, successfully, to Weimar's socially idealistic Bauhaus.

But ideals rarely free themselves entirely from the pervasive ignorance of their moment, and so the eager student found that she and her fellow females were relegated to the haus part of Bauhaus, where they were urged away from sharp and erect pursuits (“We are fundamentally opposed to the education of women as architects,” Walter Gropius wrote in 1920) and toward the more accommodating fields

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