The Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris is spotlighting the art of textile with the exhibition Decorum: over a hundred rugs and tapestries from modern artists (Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso) and the contemporary scene (Dewar & Gicquel, Vidya Gastaldon).
Decorum is a chance to discover often unknown ventures into weaving by major artists and such lesser known ones (as Guidette Carbonell). As a guide to influences and points of comparison, the exhibition also includes anonymous works from different periods and places.
The virtues of rugs and tapestries – they are visual and tactile, artistic and functional, and readily transportable: Le Corbusier called his tapestries 'Muralnomad' – mean they transcend the usual limitations of the decorative arts and interior design.
Until the late 19th century painters like Lotto, Holbein and Delacroix restricted themselves to drawing tapestry cartoons or including Oriental carpets in their pictures. In the course of the 20th century, however, the European avant-gardes revolutionized textile art and practice: artists began weaving their own rugs, drawing on works from earlier periods or ethnic and geometrical motifs.
Often bearing a political or feminist message since the 1960s, rugs and tapestries have enjoyed a marked rise in popularity since the turn of the new millennium. Young contemporary artists like Caroline Achaintre and Pae White are now producing original works that blend tradition, modernity and non-Western influences, as well as resorting to new techniques like digital weaving.
This is an exhibition that challenges the standard notions of tapestry as a minor or anachronistic art form. It also evokes a little-known aspect of the history of the MAM, which had its own Textile Art department in the 1980s.
As guest artistic director, London artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz has designed the exhibition in collaboration with Christine-Ilex Beinemeier. The environmental music (“furniture music”) serving as a backdrop is a playlist chosen by art historian Jean-Philippe Antoine.
The richly illustrated catalogue is co edited with Skira-Flammarion (graphic design by Huz&Bosshard).
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