Monday, 27 January 2014




Alright friends, my Museum Monday post last week was mostly about you. Medieval treasure?  Meh. My post this week is mostly about me. This week's post is about textiles, artist designed TEXTILES! I know you are as excited as I am, just be calm. The Fashion and Textile Museum in London is opening a show on January 31 called Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol.


The FTM website states: "the exhibition features examples of key European and American art movements: Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art; as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers. Artist Textiles shows how ordinary people were once able to engage with modern art in a personal and intimate way through their clothing and home furnishings."

Headscarf designed by Marcel Vertes, c.1944 (source)

"Flower Ballet" designed by Salvador Dali, c. 1947 (source)

Headscarf by Marcel Vertes, c.1944 (source)

Now I love textile designs and I am particularly fond of  artist textiles. The website lists several artists that will be featured in the exhibit, they mention well-known artists like Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Chagall, Warhol, etc. But artists like Raol Dufy, Sonia Delaunay, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth will be in the exhibit as well. It looks like there is good representation between male and female artists, which I hope is true of the actual exhibit and not just the description because the 20th century has some very good female textile designers. For example Jacqueline Groag, Elsa Schiaparelli (she designed textiles too), Zandra Rhodes (also a fashion designer), and Shirley Craven.

"Circus" by John Rombola, c. 1956 (source)

As the website says "ordinary people were once able to engage with modern art"  What this exhibit calls to mind is the different ways in which textiles are used. In this instance as an artist's canvas. Artist textiles of the 20th century kind of make the extraordinary ordinary. Artist textiles convert the utilitarian purpose of textiles-covering the body or furniture-into something different. You get to upholster your couch in art and then lounge around on it on the weekends, or you get wear a dress with a Warhol design, wear a Matisse headscarf or a Dali neck-tie.

"Endless--Where?" Tie designed by Dali, c. 1940s (source)

Matisse scarf, c. 1947 (source)

If you are interested in 20th century textile design here are some books you might like to browse:

Twentieth Century Textiles by Francesca Galloway
The Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection: British Textile Design from 1940 to the Present by Ngozi Ikoku
Textile Design: Artist's Textiles 1940-1976 by Geoffrey Rayner et al.
Twentieth-century Fabrics: European and American Designers and Manufactures by Doretta Davanzo Poli

They are all available in Robarts. If you just want to browse the textile design stacks just look in the NK8800ish section on the 12th floor.

And just because I like to share (and hyperlink) here are some of my favorite contemporary textile designers:

Heather Ross

Naomi Ito of Nani Iro

Liberty of London always produces great prints; the classics and the new season

And if you liked Brittney's post about Julia Child last week you might like that Jamie Oliver recently designed a line of prints for Liberty.


  1. Let me start with the end and...sigh! that Jamie Oliver - really? I mean, just because one claims to know how to cook does not entitle one to design (did Julia design any fabric? and let's just leave it here :). How inspiring is this post! I never thought of many of the artists you mentioned as textile designers so this opens a new perspective on the intersection between fashion and the museum. I wonder if you can buy reproductions in the gift shop and then wear them :) Great post!

  2. "Artist Textiles shows how ordinary people were once able to engage with modern art in a personal and intimate way through their clothing and home furnishings." This quote exemplifies a much nicer interpretation of the transition of "high art" into the everyday that we have been seeing more and more, rather than lamenting the demise of art into consumerist culture and the end of High Culture as we know it. Why does the fact that art is becoming more accessible, more personal for a wider range of people have to diminish its quality?
    I love the idea of using textiles as a medium to engage with art in a personal way in daily life. After all, are fashion and interior design not modes many of us use to express ourselves and maybe show off a little (or a lot) of our creative side? We may not be able to sport the latest haute couture ensemble from the runway, but that doesn't mean we can't all get a little artistic in our own daily lives. We have seen fashion designers make their way into museums and art galleries before (for example, the ROM's BIG Dior show-stopping dress), so who's to say artists can't make their mark in the textile world! Just goes to show how fabulously interdisciplinary arts and culture can be.

  3. I really don't know the background to Jamie Oliver's line, but I do think it is rather amusing. Apparently he was inspired by working in his garden and worked with a team of designers to create the actual prints.

    Great comment Brittney! I appreciated your acknowledgement of the idea of High Culture being sullied by the everyday. I think that textiles like this open the floor for further creativity. Not only is the textile art, but it doesn't have to be stretched over a square frame it can be gathered up into pleats, or tucks, cuffs and button bands. What I'm trying to say that the way it's used furthers the creative process which began at the design of the textile.