Date

2016

Department or Program

Architecture

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Patricia Berman

Additional Advisor(s)

Andrew Mowbray

Abstract

Nearly 100 years ago, the Bauhaus, the German school of architecture, design, and art, opened its doors to its students. Known for its radical social and artistic experimentation, the design and theory that came from the school is still relevant today. The Bauhaus was founded during a critical moment of social change, one shaped by the horrors of the Great War, by Germany’s defeat, and by its economic and political restructuring. The Bauhaus promoted a spirit of equality through its curriculum and output. Yet, the agenda of equality did not reach so far as to eliminate the distinctions between women and men at the Bauhaus. While women were accepted into the school, their exclusion from all workshops other than the weaving workshop indicates a clear division of sexes. My research considers the life, work, and writing of Anni Albers, a student of the Bauhaus whose woven and graphic work is celebrated today. This paper provides a brief background on the historic relationship of gender, weaving, and status before focusing specifically on Albers. In light of the barring of women from architecture, I consider her work as an strategic intervention with the framework of limitations posed by being a woman at the Bauhaus, identifying ways in which she asserted the importance of her craft, aligning it with modern design principles of the Bauhaus. A strong connection exists between Albers’ theoretical writing and the principles of modern architecture, as well as a number of discourses of architectural theory. These connections illustrate Albers’ attempts to break down gender barriers and carve out a voice for her medium—and by extension, for women—in the modernist movement.

In addition to this written thesis, I have also created a Studio Art installation at the Jewett Arts Center related to Anni Albers’ work in textiles and their relationship to Architecture. The installation responds to my research by exploring some of Albers’ theories at the architectural scale.

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