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Pear Review February 2014. Textile

In this first edition, the newspaper Pear Review has visited three exhibitions showing art and textiles.

For more information listen to dialogues between four colleagues at Bergen Academy of Art and Design.

Exhibition 1: TEXTILES: OPEN LETTER

Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany
June 22-10 November 2013
Curated by Rike Frank and Grant Watson

As one of the oldest techniques in human culture, textiles store knowledge and labour and communicate via form. The woven structures are based on a system of intersecting threads leading via seriality and repetition to complexity and beauty. While textiles have been used extensively by artists as material, structure, texture and artefact to reflect on forms, processes and abstractions, they have been largely ignored by art history. And while there are many words for weaving, and the connection between textile and text is one of the oldest metaphors in architecture, philosophy and sociology, textiles, having been primarily viewed as a craft, have barely developed an impact within the art historical discourse on modernity, remaining little more than a footnote.

With works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Carl Andre, Leonor Antunes, Tonico Lemos Auad, Thomas Bayrle, Otti Berger, Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (Seth Siegelaub),Yael Davids, Sofie Dawo, Hans Finsler, Elsi Giauque, Sheela Gowda, Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, Johannes Itten, Elisabeth Kadow, Paul Klee, Heinrich Koch, Benita Koch-Otte, Beryl Korot, Agnes Martin, Katrin Mayer, Cildo Meireles, Nasreen Mohamedi, Blinky Palermo, Lygia Pape, Walter Peterhans, Josephine Pryde, Florian Pumhösl, Grete Reichardt, Elaine Reichek, Willem de Rooij, Fred Sandback, Desirée Scholten, Johannes Schweiger, Gunta Stölzl, Lenore Tawney, Rosemarie Trockel, and Vincent Vulsma

Read more at Museum Abteilberg's web site

Exhibition 2: Art & Textiles

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Gemany
12 October 2013  - 2 March 2014
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 21 March  - 22 June 2014

"In the beginning there was textile art," architect Gottfried Semper - who proposed the spinning of fibers, the weaving of fabrics, knotting of carpets, sewing of garments and plaiting of the first dwellings' mats were the first skills learned by all peoples - wrote in 1860. All other artistic skills link back to textiles and the assimilation of textile techniques, he asserted, though his observations were not meant to apply beyond the practical arts. The visual arts, painting and sculpture were not his concern.

Yet the history of art could be seen to posit a Semper paraphrase: "In the beginning there was the textile," as seen in the earliest examples of artistic endeavor through to our times. Indeed, it was while visiting the 2009 Frieze Art Fair in London that Markus Brüderlin, director of Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum, was suddenly struck by how pervasive "works made of threads and fabrics, sewed sculptures, netlike structures and crocheted installations" have become in recent art production. This observation sparked "Art & Textiles," the museum's extensive new exhibit, in which 200 works from more than 80 internationally renowned artists and 60 textile artifacts from all eras and cultures illustrate "Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present."


Known for taking an interdisciplinary and multimedia approach, the Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum's team began spinning connections and interweaving genres in a historical journey that begins with the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements and the multitextile patterned worlds of Matisse, Vuillard, Klimt, Bonnard and their contemporaries. It moves on through the Bauhaus and the birth of abstraction, Fiber Art, Soft Art, Pop Art, Fluxus, Minimal Art, Arte Povera, and the network of "spiderwomen" artists such as Rosemary Trockel and Louise Bourgeois, and moves on to contemporary artworks that reflect or comment on today's Web-entangled way of life.


The show - and the accompanying 392-page catalogue, published by Hatje Cantz in German and English - plays with unexpected contrasts and visually or conceptually associative links. Thus one finds Edgar Degas' "The Ironer" rubbing shoulders with a minimal work by Lucio Fontana and a Chinese silk fragment from the ninth century, Michelangelo Pistoletto's Arte Povera work "Venus of the Rags" and an 18th-century Gobelin tapestry, or a barbed installation by Mona Hatoum accompanied by a 17th-century etching of Christ crowned in thorns.


Brüderlin notes one can only speculate why textiles have become so topical in today's art scene. Are artists championing more simple "homework" techniques as a reaction against the art world's grand gestures requiring an army of assistants, major technical equipment and enormous studios? Is it a more widespread social phenomenon, he asks, connected to the rise of "crafting" and the resurgence of decorative arts? Or is the artisanal movement a general and gratifyingly sensory response to the growing virtualization of our world?

Text by Melissa Drier WWD 
Read more at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg's web site

Soundclip: Art and Textiles coversation Herbert Wiegand, Hildur Bjarnadóttir and Hilde Hauan Johnsen

Exhibition 3: DECORUM

Petit Palais - City of Paris' Museum of Fine Arts
11 October 2013 - 9 February  2014

This exhibition will bring together carpets and tapestries from the 20th and 21st centuries, made by artists and designers, including avant-garde experiments...

... from the Bauhaus and Art Deco periods (Arts & Craft, Anni Albers, Sophie Taeuber Arp, Sonia Delaunay, Miró, Eileen Gray, Da Silva Bruhns, Ruhlmann, Leleu, etc.), to Contemporary Tapestry, led by Jean Lurçat (Vasarely, Thomas Gleb, Pierre Daquin, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jacoda Buic, Olga de Amaral, Sheila Hicks…) and more modern creations (David Hammons, Dewar and Gicquel, Pae White, and a selection of orders from Mobilier National), presented alongside older and non-Western 'anonymous' carpets (Coptic, Pre-Columbian, Persian, Berber, Navajo, Tibetan…) in order to reveal cross-influences and encourage comparisons. These carpets and tapestries, artworks in their own right, are full of rich contradictions and transcend the usual borders of decorative arts and design, perpetually oscillating between more traditional art forms and radical ideas.

Commissioner: 
Anne Dressen, curator at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris

Read more at Paris' Museum of Fine Arts

Sound clip: Decorum, conversation - Ingrid Aarset and Hilde Hauan Johnsen