Lynne Cooke at Artforum:
IN A 1985 INTERVIEW, Anni Albers remarked, “I find that, when the work is made with threads, it’s considered a craft; when it’s on paper, it’s considered art.” This was her somewhat oblique explanation of why she hadn’t received “the longed-for pat on the shoulder,” i.e., recognition as an artist, until after she gave up weaving and immersed herself in printmaking—a transition that occurred when she was in her sixties. It’s hard to judge whether Albers’s tone was wry or rueful or (as one critic alleged) “some-what bitter,” and therefore it’s unclear what her comment might indicate about the belatedness of this acknowledgment relative to her own sense of her achievement. After all, she had been making “pictorial weavings”—textiles designed expressly as art—since the late 1940s. Though the question might now seem moot, it isn’t, given the enduring debates about the hierarchical distinctions that separate fine art from craft, and given the still contested status of self-identified fiber artists who followed in Albers’s footsteps and claimed their woven forms as fine art, tout court.