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Noovo Editions is an independent editorial project with online and paper editions. First of its kind in Spain from an unique and contemporary perspective on the international panorama,
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Fabric as Material and Concept in
Modern Art from Klimt to the Present

Art & Textiles

Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present
12.10.2013 – 02.03.2014
Nothing, no material, no technique is as capable of touching our sensual and mental exis- tence so universally as textiles, particularly at a time that is in danger of becoming ever less sensuous due to increasing virtualization. Textiles with their abundance of weaves and textu- res that evolved over the millennia are the ideal medium to fulfill this need for sensuality.
The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg again devotes itself to a central aspect of human life from the perspective of art in a historically far reaching, interdisciplinary multimedia exhibition that encompasses the most diverse cultures. After Interior/Exterior in 2008 and The Art of Decele- ration in 2011, this exhibition represents a further step in the pursuit of modernism in the 21st century that the museum has been undertaking since 2006.
This large-scale exhibition encompasses approximately 170 works by over 80 artists, among them major paintings by Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee and Jackson Pollock. But artifacts whose creators’ remain nameless can also be viewed in the circa 2700 square meters large exhibition space, for example a pre-Columbian textile fragment from the collection of
Anni Albers.

Installationview Art & Textiles

Our exploration of the significance of the textiles also involves a kind of “re-reading” of the history of modern art from Art Nouveau to the present. The modern separation of applied and fine art resulted in the systematic, decades-long exclusion of all handicrafts from the art his- torical canon. In the process, modernism drew decisive impulses from the ties between art and craftsmanship.
Those expecting to primarily be confronted with textiles in this exhibition will be surprised. Visitors will not only encounter works of art made out of textiles, for example the typical knit- ted pictures by Rosemarie Trockel, but also paintings illustrating textiles like the hanging laundry in Edgar Degas’s “Woman Ironing” or the sumptuous Ball-Entrée that envelopes Ma- rie Henneberg in a textile cloud in her portrait by Gustav Klimt (1901). Videos deal with the notion of the textile (Kimsooja) or immerse the viewer in a cosmos of constantly shifting nets (Peter Kogler). Objects are furthermore on show that one otherwise encounters solely in eth- nographical museums, for example fine African Kuba cloth.
Its comprehensive approach makes Art & Textiles a fundamental exhibition.

Le linceul de Veronica, before 1654

Öl auf Leinwand, 70,5 x 56 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich, Geschenk der Dr. Joseph Scholz Stiftung
© 2013 Kunsthaus Zürich

The origins and complementary supplement can be found in counterpart, the 2001 Ornament and Abstraction exhibition (Fondation Beyeler) that examined the significance of the ornament for the deve- lopment of abstract art. The intellectual patron of that show was the Viennese art historian Alois Riegl whose universal history of form from 1893 led from humankind’s earliest patterns to the Egyptian lotus motif and the Greek palmette and from there to the arabesque orna- ment. The thesis of the exhibition was that they can be traced further in abstract art. In doing so, Riegl responded to Gottfried Semper, who in 1863 saw technology and the dealing with material as the origin of forms and symbols. “Form follows material”: This is the formula that can be applied to the Art & Textiles project.

The Art & Textiles exhibition begins during the eventful Art Nouveau period when artists and designers such as William Morris and Henry van de Velde in Paris, Brussels, London and Vi- enna set about breaking down the hierarchy between art and handicraft in favor of a compre- hensive life plan.

Textile fashioning was also the connecting link to painting that was in the process of becoming abstract after Édouard Vuillard, Henri Matisse and Gustav Klimt. The visitor follows the golden thread of the exhibition to the Bauhaus in the German cities of Wei- mar and Dessau, where textile design reached an initial highpoint and the foundations for the enfolding of so-called fiber art were laid. But it was less the heralding of a separate art move- ment that proved fruitful than the ever more self-evident use of textiles as a medium, tech- nique, material and concept in avant-garde art, for example in Material and Anti-Form Art (Eva Hesse), Soft and Pop Art (Sigmar Polke), Fluxus (Joseph Beuys) as well as Minimal Art (Agnes Martin). “Textile Art” itself was long stigmatized as being a mere handicraft and dismissed as a “women’s matter” associated with domestic housework until Rosemarie Trockel produced her first knitted pictures in the early 1980s, reevaluating the cliché of the textile as a gender- specific form of expression.

A Weaver´s Cottage, 1884
Oil on canvas on wood
47 x 61,3 cm
1237 (MK)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Photo: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam

The chapter “Spider Women” is consequently devoted to the most important protagonists of feminist art, including, alongside Trockel, Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatoum and Ghada Amer. Artists have considerably expanded the textile’s range of meanings since then and present-day art production is virtually interspersed with works made from yarn and fabrics, sewn sculptures and crocheted installations. But the “textile cosmos” extends far beyond the realm of art, fundamentally bearing on our appropriation of the world. “To be human is to be involved with cloth” says the textile scholar Beverly Gordon. Textiles literally accompany us all our lives, from the diaper to the burial shroud. As Gottfried Semper already determined in 1860, spinning and weaving concern a primal technique from which all the other arts developed. “Civilization first exists,” Hartmut Böhme explains, “when it has mastered the cultural techniques of ‘binding’ and ‘connec- ting.’” The Jacquard loom, this exemplary archetype of industrialization, introduced the pun- ched card principle, making it a prototype of digital pictorial culture. This highly topical analo- gy of mechanical weaving and digital processing tempts one to comprehend the World Wide Web as a kind of weaving loom of the Internet age.

Oil on canvas
92.5 x 73.5 cm
München, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen - Neue Pinakothek
Photo: bpk | Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen 

The exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg also pursues the question concerning the share of textile techniques in the birth of abstraction. The orthogonal fabric structure of warp and woof finds its equivalent in the rectangular grid pattern that conquered modern painting in the late 1920s (Piet Mondrian). Art & Textiles also pays particular attention to the second main occurrence in modern art, namely the exit of painting from the picture into space. The exhibition traces the “thread from the picture into space” based on historical installations in addition to those that have been produced for this occasion (Leonora Tawney, Fred Sand- back, Chiaru Shiota, Peter Kogler).

Installationview Art & Textiles – Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present (12.10.2013 - 02.03.2014), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Chiharu Shiota, Love Letters, 2013 Installation, Variable dimensions, Courtesy ARNDT Berlin, Photo: Marek Kruszewski.

List of Artists

Magdalena Abakanowicz
Nevin Aladag
Anni Albers
Ghada Amer
El Anatsui
Burak Arikan
Gertrud Arndt
Joseph Beuys
Pierrette Bloch
Alighiero e Boetti
Pierre Bonnard
Louise Bourgeois
Louis Cane
Philippe de Champaigne

Edgar Degas
Sonia Delaunay
Terk Birgit Dieker
Frauke Eigen
Noa Eshkol
Friederike Feldmann
Lucio Fontana
Mariano Fortuny
Imi Giese
Domenico Gnoli
Vincent van Gogh
Sonia Gomes
Sebastian Hammwöhner

Mona Hatoum
Olaf Holzapfel
Pieter Hugo
Johannes Itten
Sergej Jensen
Mike Kelley
Bharti Kher
Anselm Kiefer
Paul Klee
Gustav Klimt

Imi Knoebel
Peter Kogler
Yayoi Kusama
Liz Larner
Max Liebermann
Man Ray
Piero Manzoni
Brice Marden
Agnes Martin
Henri Matisse
Claude Mellan
Mario Merz

Café Samt und Seide,1927

Private Collection, Düsseldorf
Photo: Globophot 1927
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe und Lilly Reich
Piet Mondrian
François Morellet
Robert Morris
William Morris
Koloman Moser
Blinky Palermo
Janet Passehl
Michelangelo Pistoletto

Sigmar Polke
Jackson Pollock
Jessica Rankin
Robert Rauschenberg
Gerhard Richter
Jens Risch
Christian Rohlfs
Reiner Ruthenbeck
Robert Ryman
Fred Sandback
Viviane Sassen
Chiharu Shiota
Yinka Shonibare

Katharina Sieverding
Pierre Soulages
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Dorothea Tanning
Lenore Tawney
Joaquín Torres-García
Rosemarie Trockel
Heinrich Wilhelm
Trübner Félix Vallotton
Henry van de Velde
Édouard Vuillard
Andy Warhol
Pae White

Black-White-Gold I, 1950

Cotton, jute and metallic ribbon
63,5 x 48,3 cm
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/VG Bild- Kunst, Bonn 2013

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