Issue 208
May/June 2019


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Jun 20, 2019

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Tapestry now: report from Aubusson

Winter Wood, by Maureen Hodge

AUBUSSON in the Creuse region of central France is this summer (June 28 - October 6) holding an important tapestry exhibition, entitled 'Mural and Spatial', of around 40 ground-breaking works. Curators Bruno Ythier of Cité de la Tapisserie, Aubusson and Giselle Eberhard Cotton of the Fondation Toms Pauli, Lausanne, demonstrate how, from 1962-69, the tapestry world was radically transformed.

Conflict arose between advocates of the old and new during the first four Lausanne tapestry Biennales of 1962, 1965, 1967 and 1969. By 1962, the tapestry revival, initiated largely by Jean Lurç at in France, had rid itself of its traditional image of presenting woven imitations of paintings and reviving instead a pre-17th century method. Developing this technique in the Ecole Nationale d'Art Dé coratif at Aubusson in the 1920s, samples in 1946 were displayed in Paris.. Soon, Lurç at, with Pierre and Alice Pauli, planned to hold an international exhibition in Lausanne every two years to showcase wall tapestry.

But young artists, mainly from Switzerland and Central and Eastern Europe challenged the organisers by breaking with the practice of the weaver/craftsman representing in wool a painting by a Master like Matisse and in a world, hitherto dominated by men, women began to assert themselves so that by the 1965 Biennale, more women than men exhibited; this ratio has persisted to the present day.

Significantly, the 1965 Biennale included, not only wall tapestries but woven and embroidered works, which upset Lurç at and the Paulis. By 1969, new textures and three dimensional works were accepted so that it was now permissible for tapestry to move off the wall and be a textile sculpture.

The present Aubusson show features French wall tapestries by Lurç at and works based on paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Delaunay, Estè ve and Vieira Da Silva. North American work features; also pieces from other European countries like Poland, out of which Abakanowicz's three-dimensional textiles caused quite a stir.

Maureen Hodge represents Scotland with her wall-based tapestry. During her distinguished career, she has woven tapestries designed by Archie Brennan, David Hockney, Harold Cohen and Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and her work is in collections all over the world. Her 'Fields of Endeavour: Territory II' hangs in the new Scottish Parliament and she has recently contributed to 'Entangled', an exhibition in textile art by women artists at the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

MARY GLADSTONE


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