In the middle of the winter it’s quite lovely to weave a tapestry reminding you about summertime. This tapestry is woven from the side using a very complex technique. The 4th image shows the design in the correct direction. Finished, the tapestry will measure about 48 ins high and 72 ins wide. I started the tapestry in November 2016 and I estimate that the weaving process will take me through late spring. The tapestry will be available for sale when completed.
Contemporary Tapestry Weaving – firstname.lastname@example.org
Woven space: Architecture and tapestry
An upcoming design competition promises to reinvigorate the connection between architecture and textile art, and hence human experience and the built environment.
There is a long-standing historical connection between architectural space and textile art, and in particular, tapestry. Rare tapestry remnants have been found in Greece dating from the 3rd century BC and the tapestry-laden walls of European museums and palaces are very familiar to us. The longevity of this art form over the centuries makes my 15-year connection with it via the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) pale into insignificance. Time is not the relevant metric, however, when measuring the alchemy that occurs in the creation of tapestry—this is timeless.
Significant wall hangings have been created around the world and used in a myriad of configurations for functional, decorative, celebratory and didactic purposes, with a clear knowing of their ‘other’ underlying capacity to modify thermal and acoustic conditions within interior built space. Tapestries have ranged from monumental formats in great public and private buildings down to small-scale intimate works for personal enjoyment. Often underpinned by great wealth, they have been traded and presented as gifts to leaders for hundreds of years across countries and societies. They show enormous scope, having been used for traditional designs employing historical and mythical themes, to being utilised as a preferred medium by avant-garde architects and artists at the beginnings of the modern movement in Europe.
From their earliest history to the full integration of textiles into the comprehensive design program of the Bauhaus in Germany under Walter Gropius (1919-28) and later under Mies van der Rohe (1930-33), tapestries have been linked intimately with built space and its creation. One only has to think of the great architect Le Corbusier and his integration of textiles with architecture, including his own masterfully self-designed epic tapestries, to understand the significance of placement in architectural space.
William Morris in the 19th century and the contemporary French artist Jean Lurcat paved a way for others to follow, including internationally influential artists such as Picasso, Calder, Leger and Miro, who used the mediums of tapestry and textile as key platforms for their work.
A point to note is that the realisation of the two great tapestries for new Parliament House and the Sydney Opera House came via collaboration with the ATW. In fact, most of the ATW tapestries are designed with a specific location in mind, and architectural considerations often have a great effect on the designing artists and the weavers when they create a commissioned work. In our Australian context, the architect and enthusiastic champion of integrated art, Aldo Giurgola of Mitchell Giurgola Thorpe, included the monumental Arthur Boyd tapestry Untitled (Shoalhaven Landscape) in the new Parliament House in Canberra. Harry Seidler, European émigré and pioneer Australian modernist architect, included great tapestry works in his local buildings. Jørn Utzon, responsible for the world-acclaimed Sydney Opera House, designed his tapestry Homage to CPE Bach for the Utzon Room in that same building.
Ainsley Murray in her marvelous review of an installation by Sandra Selig at the MCA in 2004 (Artlink magazine vol. 25, #1) wrote perceptively and provocatively about architecture and intervention:
“Architecture has long since surrendered the tactile in favour of grander visions. Processes of digitisation, prefabrication and mechanisation have lead to the widespread abandonment of the human hand in architectural practice, and private eccentricities are now buried, smoothed over with flatter, more uniform design solutions. Recalcitrant fingerprints and other imperfections have dissolved from all but the vernacular and indigenous architecture of Australasia. The question is, how might we reconsider our relationship with built matter to restore a direct connection with human experience? I suspect the clues lie not in architecture, but in contemporary installation.”
An upcoming design competition promoted by the ATW will reinvigorate this connection between architectural built-form and textile art. It will help to build an awareness of tapestry as a relevant medium that sits comfortably within the materiality of contemporary architectural thinking, providing another tool that architects can draw on in response to this increasingly complex and challenging world.
As Ainsley Murray concluded in her article: “Perhaps the handmade in architecture is nothing to do with the physical character of buildings, but entirely to do with how we engage with them in our enlivened and repetitious gestures. Not only is architecture rethought, but the relationship between being and building reconsidered.”
Earlier this week, fifty-eight years after it was commissioned, a seventy-square-foot wool tapestry by Le Corbusier was finally installed at the Sydney Opera House. The work was originally commissioned by the architect who designed the iconic waterfront opera house, Jørn Utzon. At that time Utzon was an unknown and Le Corbusier, at the height of his career, rarely collaborated with other architects, reports Caroline Taïx, Le Monde’s Sydney-based correspondent
In 1960, Le Corbusier delivered the red and black tapestry titled Les Dés Sont Jetés (The Dice Are Cast), but, as the opera was still under construction, Utzon kept it in his home in Denmark. Then, in 1965 amidst construction delays, budget problems, and creative differences, Utzon left the project. In 1973 when the opera finally opened, neither the architect nor the tapestry went to Sydney.
Utzon died in 2008 and The Dice Are Cast was sold at as part of an auction of his collection last year. It was purchased more than $300,000 by donors to the Sydney Opera.
Tapestry is one of the oldest forms of woven textiles. The techniques used have remained the same for centuries. Remnants of tapestries woven in ancient Egypt have been dated as far back as 3000BC.
In the Middle Ages master weavers’ studios designed and wove great, colorful tapestries for wealthy clients. In the Renaissance artists such as Raphael were commissioned to produce cartoons for studios to copy, giving weavers less freedom of interpretation. Surviving tapestries from these times can still be seen, though they sometimes look rather dull and predominantly beige, blue and red. That’s because vibrant yellows, greens, purples and browns have disappeared as the dyes used have faded away.
Today, tapestry weaving is dominated by individual weavers producing their own designs, though a few studios where large tapestries are woven from artists’ cartoons still survive. Traditional fibers (wool, silk and linen) continue to be used, together with cotton and other more modern materials.
The following define a tapestry
|Tapestries are hand woven on a loom. Tapestry looms are either vertical (high warp) or horizontal (low warp).|
|The design is formed by the weft (horizontal) threads, which are tightly packed to cover the warp (vertical) threads. The warp threads are normally completely covered so play no part in the design. This is known as ‘weft facing’.|
|Each color of weft is worked only in its own section of the design, so there are many different wefts on the go at any one time. Unlike other types of weaving, it is rare for the weft to run across the entire width of the piece. This is known as ‘discontinuous weft’ as shown in the diagram.
|Tapestries are usually made to hang on a wall (though rugs, cushion covers and three-dimensional installations can also be made).|
Fine tapestries take a long time to weave, so have long been rare and expensive. Perhaps because of this, the term ‘tapestry’ has been purloined by other techniques to produce textiles and wall hangings, often resembling tapestry but at a much lower cost. Common culprits are:
On any tapestry you’ll see characteristic lines of ridges where the weft threads go over the warp threads. This tells you it’s a genuine woven tapestry. During weaving, and sometimes when completed and hung, these lines of ridges run vertically from the top to the bottom of the tapestry.
But the lines of ridges may run horizontally. This is because tapestries, especially large ones, are often woven so that the warps will be horizontal when hung. This distributes the weight of the tapestry better and prevents the wefts sliding down the warps with time (as happened with the Christ in Glory tapestry at Coventry Cathedral). When hung like this, the design has to be woven sideways on.
OPENING RECEPTION | MARCH 18, 6 – 8 PM | FREE
“Impact” explores the motivations of the artist to create. We ask the artist to answer through their artwork, “What inspires you? Who or what is the driving force behind your need to create? What has left an impression on you that lead you to become the artist you are today?” Whether it is a mentor, an event, a concept, or a personal revelation, this exhibition will examine the many avenues that impact the contemporary artist.
Ann Aurbach, Darcy Berg, Joyce Blunk, Matthew Boonstra, Christine Casten, Dion Dion, Emily Dvorin, Michael Fischerkeller, Morris Fletcher, Marni Gable, Jennifer Halli, Michelle Hamilton, Lisa Hinrichs, Mercedes Jelinek, Kris Kessinger, Ruth Kolker, Ulrika Leander, Heather Macali, Melissa McCutcheon, Ed McKay, Rachel Meginnes, Caitlin Metz, Linda Mueller, William Neukomm, Sara Nordling, Elizabeth Odiorne, Geoffrey Parker, Judith Repke, Rachel Santel, Carolyn Schlueter, Elizabeth Sharpe, Suzanne Sidebottom, Samuel Strecker, Michelle Streiff, Brittany Taylor, Ben Underwood, Barbara Watler, Jerry Walters, Teresa Wang, Peggy Wyman, and David Yates.
Jane Sauer is a studio artist, juror, lecturer, curator and former owner of Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. She served as Chair of the American Craft Council 1997-2000, besides serving on numerous other art related boards, and is currently the owner of Sauer Art Consultants.
Sauer’s woven sculptures often consist of pairs or small groups and explore human relationships, particularly those in her own life. Her list of honors includes two NEA grants and taking first place at the Fourth International Exhibit of Miniature Textiles at the British Crafts Centre in London. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the American Craft Museum in New York, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut.
Black Night (in 3 parts), Jane Sauer
Concurrence, Jane Sauer
Elaborate Layers, Jane Sauer
Foundry Art Centre
520 N. Main Center
St. Charles, MO 63301
”The destiny of the tapestry of today emerges: it becomes the mural of the modern age,” Le Corbusier wrote in his essay ”Tapestries: Nomadic Murals.” The Swiss-born Modernist architect, theoretician, painter, sculptor and writer (1887-1965) is not particularly known for his tapestries, but he did many drawings for them and clearly felt tapestries were works of art.
Many 20th-century architects and artists, including Picasso, Matisse and Braque, liked having their designs translated into woven wool tapestries, and Miró’s 35-foot-wide 1974 tapestry hung in the World Trade Center until its destruction.
Corbusier made at least 27 tapestry drawings, known as cartoons, from 1936 to 1965, La Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris says. Beginning in 1949, Corbusier began collaborating with a colleague, Pierre Baudouin, to translate his paintings and drawings into tapestries at the Pinton workshops in Felletin, France (next door to the city of Aubusson, another longtime weaving center). In 1961 Corbusier also collaborated with the weavers of Firminy, near Lyon, to have 765 square yards of tapestry made for the Palace of Justice in Chandigarh, India.
Corbusier tapestries do not turn up often, but a few are for sale. A second-generation antique carpet and tapestry dealer, Eddy Keshishian, at 24 West 57th Street, has one that he said ”is almost brand new.” He had planned to show it this weekend at the International Art and Design Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory, which was canceled because the National Guard is using the armory.
Titled ”La Licorne Passe sur la Mer,” the tapestry was made by Pinton about 1962. It is an abstract design in cherry red, teal blue, white, gray and yellow that depicts women and a unicorn on the sea. It was taken from a drawing for an enamel work, and the white vertical line from that drawing was incorporated into the tapestry.
It is signed by the artist and the workshop and is 8 feet 8 inches high and 11 feet 7 inches wide. The price is $100,000. ”It is part of an edition of six,” Mr. Keshishian said. ”Two were held back by the workshop; one for the artist and one for Pinton. This is No. 4.”
He said a somewhat similar tapestry was shown in a 1992 show, ”Le Corbusier Domestique,” at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard, Corbusier’s only building in North America. The building was completed in 1963, the year Harvard acquired its own Corbusier tapestry, ”La Femme et le Moineau” (”Woman With Sparrow”). It was woven at Pinton in 1957 and was later acquired by the center, where it still hangs.
Another Corbusier tapestry is at the Jane Kahan Gallery, 922 Madison Avenue, at 73rd Street. Titled ”Le Canapé” (”The Sofa”), it depicts an abstract figure lying on a couch. It is blue, wine red, beige and black, and measures 70 by 98 inches. Ms. Kahan said it was woven by Pinton after an image done in 1950; it bears the artist’s name and the title and is the first artist’s proof.
Mrs. Kahan added that she had access to seven other Corbusier tapestries. ”Corbusier tapestries are not as rare as Mirós,” she said. She has a Miró ”Night Creature” tapestry from the 1970’s that is 90 inches high by 120 inches wide.
Modern tapestries became popular between the world wars. ”In the 1920’s there was great cooperation between weavers and imaginative artists,” said Charles Fuller, the owner of L’Art de Vivre at 978 Lexington Avenue, at 71st Street, which sells modern tapestries. ”Weaving artists were in great demand. You see tapestries used for upholstery, as wall hangings and as special commissions for ocean liners.”
In the 1970’s the popularity of modern tapestries seems to have peaked. ”Interest in them waned in the 1970’s,” said Beatrix Medinger, the managing director of Viart, a Manhattan concern that buys art and manages collections for corporations. ”Too many were made, and tapestries became a bastardized form of art.”
Linda Parry, the head of the textiles department at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, added: ”A number of French ateliers were doing copies of paintings rather than tapestries conceived as tapestries. The whole concept behind them is different.”
Today, many dealers in antique tapestries avoid modern examples. ”Dealers feel that 20th-century tapestries are licensing adaptations, not tapestries made as tapestries,” said Titi Halle, owner of the Cora Ginsburg textiles gallery in New York. ”These dealers do not see them as reflections of great art.”
Nonetheless, the pendulum may be swinging back. ”In the last few years we’ve become a center for fine tapestries because no one else is doing it,” Ms. Kahan said.
After she visited some French weaving workshops, ”I realized it’s a very important art form and more accessible than others,” she added. ”It’s an important medium on its own.”
Ms. Parry, referring to contemporary studios like the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne and the International Tapestry Network in Anchorage, said, ”In recent years, some tapestries have been accepted within the industry as art.”
Both the ancient Egyptians and the Incas buried their dead in tapestry cloth. Some scholars say the walls of the Parthenon were originally covered with tapestries. The Coptics made tapestries from the fourth to eighth centuries.
In the Middle Ages, European monasteries and convents became centers of tapestry weaving. By the late 15th century, tapestries had become status symbols among the aristocracy. Nobles moving from castle to castle took their tapestries with them, to show them off and to use them to insulate their chilly stone castles. Henry VIII reportedly had 2,000 tapestries in 17 royal residences.
In France, Aubusson became an important weaving center in 1662, when Louis XIV’s finance minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, designated the city’s workshops ”a royal manufacturer.” In 1663 Colbert imported Flemish weavers to start Les Gobelins in Paris. Some 800 artisans were employed weaving tapestries for the royal court there, and Louis XIV supposedly had 2,155 Gobelins when he died.
France’s tapestry workshops thrived until the French Revolution, when they collapsed from the lack of state support. The Aubusson workshops were not revived until the 19th century, and then they simply copied Renaissance designs.
This situation changed in the 1920’s, when artists like Picasso and Braque got into the act. They did not consider tapestries an inferior art; in fact, they exhibited their tapestries alongside the paintings that inspired them.
In the 1930’s French artists like the Cubist painter Georges Valmier produced cartoons for tapestries. L’Art de Vivre currently has an abstract Valmier tapestry dated 1930 in black, brown and beige. It costs $15,000.
In Aubusson, ”I was asked to bring a new spirit, expressing the spirit of the age,” Corbusier wrote in his essay. He continued, ”Tapestries, drawings, paintings, sculptures, books, houses and city plans are, in my personal case, one and the same manifestation of stimulating harmony at the breast of a new mechanical society.”
Tapestry As An Art Form
By Ixchel Suarez
When we come across the word tapestry, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably it would be those ancient huge tapestries generally called Gobelins, where the hunting scenes inscribed in the verdures, take our eyes into a deep field or forest. Or maybe we think of the great fantastic European castles with mythological animals like Unicorns or winged lions. Maybe we would go even further back in antiquity, when Coptic tapestries appeared in several areas of Greece, or we think of the Peruvian lands where plain weaves have been found that date from 1000 BC or even older.
Even though tapestries were known on the banks of the Nile River almost two thousand years before the Christian era, it is likely that the art had been practiced in other, adjoining civilizations even before then. Tapestries were made in western Asia and Greece and also in Pre-Columbian Peru or Mexico as well as in China during the T’ang period.
Since actual textile fragments are rarely preserved, our information about tapestry from those remote times is based largely on written descriptions, paintings or sculptures. Some samples of Egyptian specimen from royal tombs date from 1483 BC. Examples of Chinese tapestries from the 8th century are now in the Taimadera Temple in Japan. Tapestries hanging in the church of St Gereon at Cologne were probably made in that city at the close of the 11th Century. No doubt, these are the oldest examples of tapestry woven in Europe in the early Middle Ages. Tapestries have evolved from diverse techniques of textile forms and shapes. However, the basic structure has remained the same.
As we survey our evidence for the various types of basic weaves thus collected from a wide geographical and temporal expanse, we begin to see some emerging patterns. emerging. Broadly speaking, the materials used for weaving influenced the variety of application and the structure of the woven article in the Neolithic and Early Bronze ages. Eventually, these basic weave structures begin to influence each other. It is undoubtedly no accident that the difference between loom traditions correlates with the division between the European set of weaves on one hand (from the home of the warp-weighted loom) and the Egyptian and Middle Eastern traditions on the other (in two beam ground-loom territory). It is also no coincidence that this division, while it lasted, correlates with the fact who was and who was not using wool. Everyone was familiar with linen, but for Egypt it was in effect the only major fibre. For other groups, wool became more and more important and eventually eclipsed linen. One of the main reasons for the preferred use of wool was the fact that it was infinitely easier to dye and the colours were brighter and therefore even more attractive to the eye.
But let’s not get too deep into structural details. The question remains: Was tapestry an art form then? Is it still an art form now? There is a tendency to compare the art of tapestry with the inseparable art of painting. The distance however is considerable, for there is a basic difference between tapestry which is a manual craft, subject (but not exclusively) to a model, and painting, which enjoys complete creative freedom. Tapestry, one might say, loses certain spontaneity, yet other characteristics which distinguish it from painting contribute to its richness and provide it with immense artistic impact.
There was a time when tapestry was a collective art and could be compared to the performance of a symphony. The “composer” was the cartoon painter and the weavers were the “musicians”. And yet, when one transposes a painted cartoon into the woven work, the weaver, who is both artisan AND artist, must call upon the skill of years of training and even individual personality, to capture every nuance of the tapestry design.
Where, then is the essence or the heart of the weaver when one should follow a cartoon-project but on the way finds the media as the most expressive language? When, in the transfiguration, the project becomes one with the artist? What happens to all those inner forces that during the weaving process seem to attack us, make us feel drawn to this or that material for our project? Is it valid to let our explorations run free – – to interpret our feelings, or should we limit the creative process of weaving to suit the cartoon?
As a tapestry weaver and occasional painter for more than 24 years , I can tell you that one of my main design-related challenges in tapestry is precisely this problem: how to define the boundary between the design in the cartoon and the creative weaving process itself. My background as Graphic Designer has taught me how to compose and create my projects; my weaving skills on the other hand, have taught me how to create the flow, how to use the technique to make it into a defined idea; my artistic perception of the craft/art have led me to experiment with all the different materials available – – not necessarily following traditional practices. It seems essential to me, that sometimes, in order to pursue the idea, the weaver has to sacrifice something to accomplish a goal.
This is tough to do. As an artist, I am constantly choosing between the original project, the technique and the final vision of my work. To sacrifice one in order to preserve the other is for me the ultimate artistic expression.
During the Middle Ages tapestry was a “useful art”. Hangings adorned the walls of royal and princely residences but also those of churches. Chambers of tapestries were effective insulations against draughts. But the fundamental purpose of tapestry was to cover a large surface and offer the possibility of monumental decorations. However, it was the technique which provided the force of expression and it set mural tapestry on the level of great art. That was understood by every well positioned person enamored by beauty, regardless who created the work or where it originated from. . It is in this period that the greatest series of tapestries made their appearance, whether religious, pagan, mythological or realistic. The looms of Europe produced innumerable tapestries to celebrate great individual deeds and conquests or to proclaim the teachings of the Church. Thus we see that in every period in time, tapestry was considered a work of sumptuous, expressive and original art.
During the last century, tapestry lost its role of major importance. Today, after more than a hundred years, thanks to the joint efforts of cartoon painters and weavers, it has once again become an expression of the human spirit. However, it has also generated a particularly controversial debate regarding the division between design, craft and art. To clearly define the role between the painter who visualizes the project and the weaver, who either executes or interprets it, may seem to serve a practical purpose; it is also brutal and somehow rash. It makes no sense to me to get caught up in trying to establish a “supremacy” amongst the many people who are involved in the design and production fiber art. As art, tapestry becomes the media with which to explore and develop possibilities; as such, it is a glorious combination of aesthetics, concept and technique.
Contemporary fiber art is interesting and vital precisely because it exists in the space between the rigid and divisive categories of craft and art. . Tapestries are no longer classified as either functional/educational or aesthetic, but have become interpretations and expressions of individuals. As such, they exist on a new plane. Through these textiles, individuals are able to demonstrate a balance of design and craft.
While recognizing that an avant-garde approach is always important, there is also a need for good, sober, contemporary work that satisfies the mass of consumer design. Ultimately, it is variety that characterizes the renaissance of tapestry production. I am glad that reviving the art of tapestry is breaking free of dogmatism.
The contemporary movement is tolerant of all kinds of content. Tapestry has now conquered elements that have fractured previously strict traditional European techniques. A vast universe of textures, colors and sensorial stimulus has made the explorations of new ideas for tapestry projects possible. As such , it straddles the huge chasm between craft and art.
Tapestry weavers prove with their work that excellent knowledge of the craft of weaving is not enough. One has to be able to express aesthetically what fills the human soul. This has always been at center of the artistic element. Tapestry requires patience. It seems out of sync with the current speed of life, the technological advances and the many forms of rapid communications. Is there no place for such a “slow” and meticulous art as tapestry? Is there no time for infinite patience? My personal refuge is precisely to escape into this kind of “motionless” time. It makes my mind travel to other times and spaces. It makes my body enter into a relaxed state of mind where I can forget about – – but also deal with – – my every- day life stress. I always look forward to the moment when I can sit in front of my frame loom, and enter another dimension on my life.
Tapestry is not only about the craft of weaving, nor is it simply textile artists “doing their thing”. It opens up possibilities of expression and thought. It opens up possibilities to interpret the past and to examine the present. It makes us aware of dogmas and our ability to go beyond .
I wish you weavers many such “woven moments” in your life. Share your intricate feelings with your projects! Tapestry as an art form – – an expression of our innermost self – should never vanish.