How Anni Albers’s matzah cover went from a family’s Passover table to the Jewish Museum

How Anni Albers’s matzah cover went from a family’s Passover table to the Jewish Museum


Each individual Passover when the Cohens set their table for the common Seder meal, they took out a thing reserved for their table alone—a matzah protect woven for them by experimental textile artist Anni Albers. “It sat on the desk subsequent to my father, or my mom following he died,” suggests Tamar Cohen, daughter of Elaine Lustig and Arthur Cohen, who gifted the custom made-designed ritual object to New York’s Jewish Museum in 2021. “The afikoman [a piece of unleavened bread hidden for children to find after the meal] was wrapped inside in a serviette.”

A matzah go over ordinarily retains a few items of unleavened bread at the middle of the Passover desk and is embellished with organic and natural patterns. But as the abstracted warp and weft of this Albers piece could propose, matters were carried out a little bit differently in the Upper East Aspect townhouse of Lustig Cohen, a graphic designer and artist, and Cohen, an artwork critic and theologian. (When the deal with wasn’t in use, it sat on the top rated shelf of a modernist cabinet that Lustig Cohen intended herself.)

Lustig Cohen understood Albers by her former husband, designer Alvin Lustig, who was invited by Josef Albers to train at Black Mountain College or university in 1945. They remained buddies, and Lustig Cohen commissioned Albers to make a matzah cover in 1959. The outcome was a blue-inexperienced sq. fusing metallic cellophane with bast fiber—typical of the unforeseen combos of artificial and organic and natural supplies that Albers commenced earning at the Bauhaus university. The word “matzah” is embroidered in gold Hebrew letters.

“Works of Judaica (Jewish ceremonial objects) by Albers are very exceptional,” Abigail Rapoport, Judaica curator at the Jewish Museum, says. Albers, who was born into a German Jewish spouse and children but identified as secular, also produced Torah Ark curtains for Temple Emanu-El in Dallas (1957) and Rhode Island’s Temple B’Nai Israel (1961). “Those are furnishings structure far more than a traveling piece of Judaica that was utilised, that was touched, that really experienced items of matzah in it.”

Albers’s matzah deal with is also distinctive for the reason that its function aligns with her views on textiles, her preferred medium. “If the character of architecture is the grounded, the preset, the long-lasting, then textiles are its quite antithesis,” Albers wrote in 1957. “Both are historical crafts…one for a settled lifestyle, the other for a lifestyle of wandering, a nomadic everyday living.” The matzah that Albers’s go over was developed to incorporate symbolizes bread that couldn’t rise for the reason that of the hurry to flee enslavement in Egypt, and wander on a 40-yr nomadic journey in the direction of liberty.

Anni Albers, Six Prayers, 1965-66, cotton, linen, bast and silver thread The Jewish Museum, NY. Reward of the Albert A. List Family. © 2022 The Josef and Anni Albers Basis / Artists Legal rights Modern society (ARS), New York

The Jewish Museum was thrilled to acquire this modernist Judaica object not only because it is a unusual instance of Albers relating to her Jewish heritage, but also since she and Lustig Cohen have historically been aspect of the museum’s fabric. The Jewish Museum commissioned Albers to make a Holocaust memorial, Six Prayers(1965-66), and mounted a retrospective of her perform in 2000. At the same time, Lustig Cohen was shaping the graphic institutional id of the museum in the 1960s by coming up with exhibition catalogues, brochures and other print products. Her models and paintings had been celebrated in a 2018-19 solo exhibition at the museum.

“The Jewish Museum was an clear choice,” says Cohen about the choice to reward her childhood matzah protect to the museum. “I am pleased other men and women ultimately get to share the pleasure my loved ones had.”


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