Drawn to Anni Albers

Celebrating the renowned artist with a comic about her life and work

A photograph of Howard Kaplan on a plane.
Howard Kaplan
March 10, 2022
The cover "Threads of History: A Comic About Anni Albers." A woman drawn in profile stands against a background or red on white maze-like design.
Cover illustration from "Threads of History," a comic about artist Anni Albers. All illustrations by Emily Fromhage.

This comic had me at hello. The cover features the strong profile of Anni Albers set against a maze-like pattern, suggesting not only the artist’s textile and graphic work, but also a sense of navigating her life, in all its triumphs and difficulties.

The same graphic pattern from the cover leads into a red thread that carries us throughout the years of Albers’s life, beginning when with her childhood in Berlin, Germany, where she was born in 1899. The thread continues with her leaving home at the age of twenty-one to study at the prestigious Bauhaus, the innovative school of art and design. There, she discovered weaving and began to incorporate her own ideas, using unexpected materials such as yarn, cellophane, and metallic thread. She became acting director of the Bauhaus weaving workshop from 1930 to 1933. At the Bauhaus, she met and fell in love with abstract painter Josef Albers.

Two comic cells. On the left is a pair of hands holding a red thread. On the right, two hands locked together. A red thread connects both the cells and forms a heart over the connected hands.

One of my favorite details in the comic shows the couple holding hands. This time, the red thread forms a heart shape around their joined hands as they tied the knot on their wedding day.

And then everything changes. The Nazis declared that the Bauhaus degenerate and closed the school. Anni and Josef fled to American where they became instructors at the newly established Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

The comic, in beautiful primary colors drawn by Emily Fromhage, includes Anni Albers becoming the first textile artist to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

An illustration of a woman sitting at a large floor loom

Many good stories have a narrative thread that carries you through. “Threads of History” takes it one step further, offering the reader a real thread that weaves throughout Albers’ story. To me, that is a perfect touch.

This comic is part of a series Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists that illuminates the stories of ten women artists in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Inspired by graphic novels, these short takes on artists’ lives were each drawn by a woman student-illustrator from the Ringling College of Art and Design.

We invite you to read the comic and share with your friends and young people in your life.


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