Anni Albers was born Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann in Berlin, Germany, to an affluent family of Jewish descent. She began painting and drawing at an early age, encouraged by her parents. She attended at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg for two months in 1920 before going to the Bauhaus at Weimar in 1922.
She took up weaving because her first choice, glassmaking, was closed to women, but came to love it. She experimented with new materials and became a bold abstract artist and modernist pioneer. In 1925, she married Josef Albers, 11 years her senior, a teacher at the Bauhaus. That year, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau to a building designed by Walter Gropius, the architect who had founded the school. Anni and her husband became friends with Paul and Lily Klee, Wassily and Nina Kandinsky, Oscar and Tut Schlemmer and Lyonel and Julia Feininger. The Bauhaus was forced to close in 1933 following the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, and Anni and her husband went to the USA to teach at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Her textiles were shown throughout the United States, culminating in her 1949 solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, the first textile artist to be so honored by MOMA. After the couple left Black Mountain College in 1949, Anni began to work from their new home in Connecticut. In 1963, she experimented with printmaking at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles and then focused most of her time on printmaking and textile design. She published the influential books On Designing (1959) and On Weaving (1965). After her husband's death in 1975, she helped oversee his legacy and had several more exhibitions of her own art. A further collection of her theoretical work, Selected Writings on Design (2000), was published posthumously.