THE WOVEN AND GRAPHIC ART of Anni Albers" at the Renwick Gallery is a lifetime of variations on a quiet, almost contemplative theme.
German born, Albers came from the Bauhaus to our house, emigrating here with her husband and fellow artist Josef Albers. To an experimental school in North Carolina called Black Mountain College they brought the idea that the functional can be artistically valid as well.
The show, which opened on her 86th birthday, is half textiles, half prints. Woven from a subdued palette, the wall hangings and tablecloth fabric samples are often geometric forms on a grid -- a checkerboard base of interwoven lines. She likes using geometric forms for the calm and balance they engender.
In 1963 she took up printmaking, and seven years later, gave her loom away. But she never lost the thread. All her prints resemble textiles. In some, she has filled in many boxes like the skeleton of a crossword puzzle. In others, thread-like lines have found their own configuration -- as if dropped on the floor, played with by the cat, and then drawn by the artist.
The show will have a specialized audience. As Renwick director Lloyd Herman says in the show's catalogue, "Her very name is a byword to generations of American weavers, for Anni Albers was among the handful of artists in this country to demonstrate that modern art could be made on a loom."
THE WOVEN AND GRAPHIC ART OF ANNI ALBERS -- At the Renwick Gallery through January 15, 1986.