Andrew Dickson is a writer and critic for The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. His most recent book is Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare’s Globe (2016). (November 2017)
What strikes you as you enter the Guggenheim show is: Why on earth should she have been forgotten at all? One of the first pieces is also one of Albers’s earliest, a design for a wall hanging executed in 1926, while she was still a student at the Bauhaus in Weimar. She had arrived feeling “a tangle of hopelessness” and taken a textile class, grudgingly, because it was the only one on offer to her as a female student. Despite the poor tuition, she quickly realized that she had found her métier. The design is only thirteen-and-a-half inches high, in pencil and gouache: a rectilinear, Mondrian-like puzzle of yellow, black, and blue stripes and blocks, enforced by the weaving style Albers selected. Woven into a silk, rayon, and linen hanging by her Bauhaus colleague Gunta Stölzl, forty-one years later, it still looks immaculately contemporary. From the “tangle,” she had found shape and line.