Category: Museums

Most Influential Art Movements of the Decade

Last month, Artsy identified the most seven most influential art movements of the decade in The Art Movements of the 2010s (Dec 18, 2019) by Charlotte Jansen https://www.artsy.net/series/decade-art/artsy-editorial-art-movements-2010s. Two of those identified by Jansen — the reconsideration of women artists, which the Artsy called “an art history overhaul” and the art world’s embrace of craft — are two we at browngrotta arts have also watched with more than passing interest for the past 10 years.

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chicago Art Institute 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta
Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chicago Art Institute 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

The article points to the Guerrilla Girls survey in 2016, which found an unsurprising, yet overwhelming, bias towards Western male artists, which curators and galleries have since been working to address in exhibitions such as Women of Abstract Expressionism. We would add several exhibitions to that list, including Woman Take the Floor, currently at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today at the Museum of Arts in Design in 2015, Ethel Stein’s one-person exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and Lenore Tawney’s current four-part retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin. The article also mentions overlooked women artists already in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have gained representation with blue-chip galleries, specifically, Rose Wylie joined David Zwirner 2017; Luchita Hurtado joined Hauser & Wirth in 2018;  Howardena Pindell joined Victoria Miro in 2019. Carmen Herrera, now 104, started working with Lisson in 2009 and opened a retrospective at the Whitney in 2016. We would add Françoise Grossen who joined Blum & Poe in 2015.

The “return of craft” has brought greater attention to women artists, too. Jansen notes it has placed greater focus on forgotten legends such as Anni Albers, and living talents like Sheila Hicks. In November, Jansen points out, the Whitney mounted Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, on view through next January. Enthusiasm for ceramics has grown, too, she writes, as audiences continue to gravitate towards works by California Clay.

Even Thread Has a Speech by Lenore Tawney
Even Thread Has a Speech by Lenore Tawney is in the Whitney Exhibition Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Movement artists Ken Price, Peter Voulkos and Ron Nagle as well as the late Betty Woodman. We’d also point to interest in ceramist Toshiko Takaezu, whose work was included in both Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor.

Installation View of Toshiko Takaezu; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor at the MFA Boston
Installation View of Toshiko Takaezu; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor at the MFA Boston. Photo by Peter Russo

“Craft techniques are some of the oldest media in human history,” Jansen concludes, “but this decade has proved there is still boundless inspiration to be found in them.”


Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliff

To much fanfare, New York City’s beloved Museum of Modern Art reopened on Oct 21, 2019 after undergoing major renovations over the summer to expand to more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

The museum’s Department of Architecture and Design organized the inaugural exhibitions reexamining the role of both disciplines as “integral to the interdisciplinary conversation with the visual arts” — an approach we have ascribed to at browngrotta arts for over 30 years.

Of particular interest to arttexstyle is the textile exhibition titled Taking a Thread for a Walk, which is a whimsical play on Paul Klee’s pedagogical lesson that “a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” This exhibition is on view at The Philip Johnson Galleries on the museum’s third floor through April 19, 2020.   

Taking a Thread for a Walk, according to MoMA’s official press release, “looks at how successive generations developed new material and constructive languages from the 1890s through the 1970s, highlighting the flexibility of textiles, a medium that continues to defy easy categorization. The installation ‘takes a thread for a walk’ among ancient textile traditions, early 20th-century design reform movements, adventurous combinations of natural and new synthetic fibers in industrial production, through to the emergence of a more sculptural approach to textile art in the 1960s and 70s. Textiles and the adjacent practices of architecture, painting, drawing and sculpture have long had a close affinity, especially in the 20th century, when there was a concerted move to emphasize the underlying unity of all art forms and to connect modern art with industry and daily life. Woven artifacts appeared at the forefront of ongoing debates around abstraction, the total work of art, and the fusion of art with technology, challenging the widespread marginalization of textiles as ‘women’s work.'” Many of the pioneers in this narrative have been women, chief among them Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Florence Knoll and Sheila Hicks. Also featured are  recent acquisitions by Monika Correa (India), Aurèlia Muñoz (Catalonia), and the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, making clear the medium’s global relevance.

Upon entering the exhibition, we were greeted by a large scale sisal sculpture Yellow Abakan 1967–1968 by Magdalena Abakanowicz whose monumental works were often misperceived as a “feminine’ craft.” For more than half a century, Magdalena Abakanowicz produced critically acclaimed, poetic sculptures about the fraught and fragile condition of being human, shaped by her experiences growing up during WWII and living through the Soviet domination of Poland. According to MoMA, “Abakanowicz and many artists of the Eastern Bloc were drawn to craft and textile traditions as expressive mediums less regulated by Soviet censorship. Yellow Abakan‘s form is determined by the drape of the textile, which is coarsely woven from sisal, an industrial plant fiber used to make rope. The scarred seams and anatomical appendages lend the work a figural quality, something Abakanowicz continues to explore in large-scale sculptures cast in hardened fiber. Yellow Abakan was among works by several Polish weavers included in

Wall Hangings, a 1969 MoMA exhibition showcasing the work of international contemporary fiber artists. Abakanowicz’ work was first exhibited in the US by gallerists Anne and Jacques Baruch of Chicago. The Baruch’s work with fiber artists from Eastern Europe is the subject of browngrotta arts’ catalog, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection.

Directly across and in stark contrast in size is a beautiful raffia basket by Ed Rossbach Raffia Lace Basket, 1973. Rossbach was a relentless experimenter and according to MoMA “his career began in with ceramics and weaving in the 1940s, but evolved over the next decade into basket making. He is best known for his innovative and playful baskets made from nontraditional materials such as plastic and newspaper.” Rossbach was also featured in our recent exhibition Artists from The Grotta Collection which is now extended online on Artsy. 

linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Another highlight of the exhibition is a linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965. Hicks is one of the several modern craft and dimensional art artists who are part of The Grotta Collection. Hicks’ work is featured in browngrotta arts’ catalog, Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan, which documents an exhibition Hicks curated at bga in the 90s, one of several bga exhibitions in which Hicks’ work has been included.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Also of interest is a curious framed coptic rounded tapestry from the 6th-8th century titled Christ enthroned by an unknown designer. There is a loom on the left by Anni Albers labeled Structo ArtCraft 750 loom c. 1952 and to the right is a sculpture by Aurèlia Muñoz and Antoni Gaudi’s Study of a catenary arch for the Gaudí crypt at Colonia Güell, 1996. And directly above is a 3-panel digital video projection titled Warping Threading Weaving Drawing, 2014 by Simon Barker and Ismni Samanidou.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Poorly

Another section of the exhibition featured a collection of woven textiles and in the foreground we were delighted to see a mesmerizing wall hanging by Jack Lenor Larsen, Interplay Casement Fabric, 1960, made of rovanna saran microfilamant. An international textile designer, author and collector, Larsen has long played an influential role in textile arts and has been an important mentor and supporter of browngrotta arts. “I think of interior fabrics as something to be in, not just to sit on or look at. Objects are out: the surround is in, and how we feel and relate to space is everything,” Larsen is quoted from 1978 on the MoMA art label. Behind these collections of soft fabrics is Halyard armchair, 1950 by Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner who was commissioned by Lou and Sandy Grotta to design several pieces for their home, The Grotta House. Anni Albers’ popularity is well represented in the exhibition, too, with 18 works ranging from 1926 to 1983 including screenprints, design drawings and tapestry. 

Sheila Hicks Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Wait, there’s more! On the sixth floor of the museum is another exhibition Surrounds: 11 Installations, showcasing for the first time 11 watershed installations by living artists from the past two decades, all drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition includes Hicks’ monumental Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2013–14) that “playfully and subversively challenges notions of architecture as permanent, solid, and tectonic.”

Be sure to go and see this abundance for yourself. Taking a Thread for a Walk is on view through April 19, 2020. The MoMA is located at 11 West 53 Street, New York. Open daily from 10am to 5:30pm. For more information, visit MoMA.org


Dispatches: Italy

Carter looks at the reverse sides of Raphael’s portraits of Agnolo Doni and his wife, Maddalena Strozzi, at Room 41 Uffizi Galery in Florence

We visited Italy earlier this month. It was an orgy of art and wine and fine food. Much of what we saw was traditional and magical — Fra Angelico, DaVinci, Bernini, Michelangelo.

Reviewing work for the 1980s in Milan, Triennale di Milano Design Museum, Carter, Carol and Rhonda
Reviewing work for the 1980s in Milan, Triennale di Milano Design Museum

We made time for the contemporary, too — in Milan, the Triennale di Milano Design Museum was a highlight (https://www.triennale.org/en/). We walked down memory lane — cutting edge lighting, furniture and objects from the 60s, 70s, 80s and later.

Wendy Wahl, Period Dress

Venice, of course, meant the Venice Biennale and its satellite exhibitions. First Stop, PersonalStructures at the Palazzo Bembo, and exhibition “in the context of the Venice Biennale,” mounted by the European Culture Center (https://ecc-italy.eu/exhibitions/2019art). Peering into a warren of small rooms, we found Wendy Wahl’s Period Dress.

American Pavilion, Martin Puryear
Martin Puryear’s Swallowed Sun (Monstrance and Volute) 

Then Tom and Carter visited the Biennale central site; admirably illustrating this year’s theme – May You Live in Interesting Times (https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019). Tom and Carter headed straight to the American Pavilion, featuring Martin Puryear. We are big fans – loved his solo show at MoMA in 2008. He’s a maker of big baskets in a some ways. Works of fiber were on display in several pavilions.

Work from Finland’s Pavilion
Carter in the Venezuelan Pavilion Venice Biennale

Carter and Tom liked what they saw at the Venezuelan and Finnish pavilions in particular.

Alexandra Bircken, Angie, Venice Biennale
Alexandra Bircken, Angie

They were taken by German artist Alexandra Bircken’s work in the Arsenale and Korean artist Suki Seokyeong Kang’s experiments with space.

Work by Suki Seokyeong Kang
Work by Suki Seokyeong Kang

Our only disappointment — Federica Luzzi was not in Italy when we visited, but in Japan where she is participating in a solo show at the LADS Gallery, as part of a an international exchange through the City of Osaka.


Dispatches: Philadelphia

Philadelphia skyline from the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum

There are no end to art and historical treasures in Philadelphia and Rhonda had a chance to meet up with some good friends and take in a few last week. The Philadelphia Art Museum is a wonder and its annex, the Perelman Building, houses two intriguing exhibits: Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South and The Art of Collage and Assemblage through September 2nd. Souls Grown Deep combines and extraordinary collection of textile art, sculpture, and painting acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Roman Stripes Variation Quilt, 1970, Loretta Pettway(born 1942)

With remarkable inventiveness, generations of quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama have created arresting compositions of color and form from worn-out clothes and other repurposed fabrics. Provocative mixed-media paintings and found-object sculptures by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley and others are displayed amongst the quilts, whose subjects and materials echo with the painful history of the American South and the conditions of life for many who live there. The collage exhibition includes works by Joseph Cornell, a personal favorite, and other less-expected names including Romare Bearden, Bettye Saar and Pablo Picasso.

Protecting Myself the Best I can (Weapons by the Door), 1994, by Lonnie Holley (American, born 1950), 2017-229-24.
Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York

We found artfulness of another kind at the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibition, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Some interesting textiles are on display, including a fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation) and an embroidered potholder that reads, “Any Holder but a Slaveholder.” We also appreciated the Anti-Slavery Alphabet from 1847.

Cardbird II, 1971, Robert Rauschenberg

The exhibition has an ambitious premise, to illustrate how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality. The 3,000- square-foot exhibit brings to life the stories of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. It features the stories of lesser-known individuals, too, in order to shed light on the American experience under slavery, the battle for freedom during the Civil War and the fight for equality during Reconstruction, which many call the nation’s “Second Founding.” Highlighted are the three constitutional amendments added between 1865 and 1870, which ended slavery, required states to respect individual rights, promised equal protection to all people, and expanded the right to vote to African-American men. The exhibition covers, as the Wall Street Journal terms it: “the racially egalitarian society that was briefly wrestled into being after the abolition of slavery, before the ravages of Jim Crow and the hard-fought triumphs of the civil-rights movement.”

Potholder, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

The artfulness is evident in the matter-of-fact way the signage and artifacts give equal time to the efforts made to reach equality and those determined to subvert each of those amendments — including displays about Ku Klux Klan, complete with original robes, which were not white but maroon and heavily ornamented. Also edifying and persuasive is the neutrally presented, but inescapable, evidence that the goals of these amendments are yet to be achieved. An example, noted by one reviewer, is the 13th Amendment. “The interactive displays…show the debates, the drafts, and the redrafting of those amendments and help to explain how the final draft [of the 13th] actually allowed forced labor ‘as a punishment for crime’ … It does not take long to make the connection between the 13th Amendment and the shockingly profitable system of prison labor and prison farms which still exists today.” (Margaret Darby, Exhibit Review: Civil War and Reconstruction Phillylifeandculture.com, May 9, 2019).

Anti-Slavery Alphabet, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia



Dispatches: San Francisco

Carter Grotta, of our browngrotta arts team, traveled to San Francisco last month. We asked him to snapshots of interesting art. Here are some of the highlights!

First the de Young. There, Carter visited the Saxe Collection at the de Young Museum, where he saw an Untitled work of bark and stone by Dorothy Gill Barnes and ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu and Paul Soldner.

Ruth Asawa installation at the deYoung Museum

A great collection of works by Ruth Asawa, San Francisco’s most well-known fiber artist, is also on display at the de Young Museum along with a unique abstract quilt, A Bend in the River, by Joe Cunningham.

A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
SFMOCA digital installation

Next SFMOCA. Carter was quite taken by this remarkable digital installation, part of snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks, a unique take on transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks. This work illustrates what it means to engage with the technological advancements of the 21st century to create digital conversations in photographs.

Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench
Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench

Also housed at the SFMOMA, the sculptures of Magdalena Abankanowicz, like Four on a Bench, are representative of the oppressive historic conditions of her native country, Poland.

Jannis Kounellis Untitled piece of steel
Jannis Kounellis, Untitled

Also at SFMOMA, was this interesting Untitled piece of steel, crucible, tar and rope, by Italian-born artist, Jannis Kounellis, in The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection.

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV bamboo sculpture
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Also worth a trip, the Asian Art Museum which features an exciting installation by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV — a 4th generation bamboo artist, that seems to have grown organically within the gallery space.

Federal Court House building in San Francisco
Federal Court House Building

What Carter couldn’t see — or photograph at least — was That Word, a larger-than-life sculpture of twigs by Gyöngy Laky which is on loan to the federal courts where photography is strictly prohibited.
You can see That Word, though, even if you can’t take a photograph. Just one of a series of interesting stops in a city that is great for art tourism!


Art Out and About — Exhibitions in the US and Abroad

Detail of Imprint by Caroline Bartlett. Photo by Yeshen Venema & The National Centre for Craft & Design

ABROAD

Ctrl/Shift – Sleaford, United Kingdom
Across the pond, Ctrl/Shift: New Directions in Textile Art is currently on show at the National Centre for Craft & Design. Ctrl/Shift, which features work by browngrotta arts artist Caroline Bartlett, presents a wide variety of pieces which present how artists transform their pieces through their creative processes. Focusing on shifts, changes and adaptability, the exhibition highlights the impact of innovative contemporary themes, ideas and technologies on textile art.  Click HERE for more information.

El Anatsui: Material Wonder  – London, United Kingdom
El Anatsui’s work is on view at October Gallery in London through the end of April. The exhibition, El Anatsui: Material Wonder, coincides with the largest retrospective of Anatsui’s work,  El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Throughout his influential career, Anatsui has experimented with a variety of mediums, including cement, ceramics, tropical hardwood corrugated iron, and bottle-top, to name a few. October Gallery’s exhibition includes a variety of metal wall sculptures accompanied by a series of prints made in collaboration with Factum Arte. Want to see these one-of-a-kind pieces? Head over to October Gallery’s website HERE for visiting information.



Rehearsal, El Anatsui, Aluminum and copper wire, 406 x 465 cm, 2015. Photo Jonathan Greet/October Gallery.

A Considered Place – Drumoak, Scotland
A Considered Place, an upcoming exhibition at Drum Castle in Drumoak, Scotland, will share the work of browngrotta arts artists Jo Barker and Sara Brennan, along with Susan Mowatt, Andrea Walsh and Jane Bustin. The exhibition’s location, Drum Castle, is encircled by late 18th rose gardens and trees from all regions of the 18th century British Empire. Make a day of the outing, starting with a stroll through A Considered Place concluded by a relaxing afternoon wandering around the estate’s grounds. Curious about Drum Castle or A Considered Place, click HERE for more information.

Fendre L’air – Paris, France
In Paris, Jiro Yonezawa is among artists featured in Fendre L’air, an elegant exhibition of bamboo basketry at the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. Fendre L’air is the first French exhibition to pay homage to the exquisite craft and creativity of Japanese basket makers. Composed of 160 works, the exhibition delves into the art and history of Japanese basketry. Japanese basketry, which we have discussed in length across many blog posts, grew in popularity during the Meiji era as the revival of a certain type of tea ceremony in which bamboo baskets and containers were used for flower arrangments. As creativity has flourished, baskets have become less utilitarian and more decorative. Today, the work of many Japanese basket makers is so impactful, that the artists themselves have become living national treasures. Click HERE or more information on  Fendre L’air.


Certainty / Entropy (Peranakan 2), Aiko Tezuka, h27 x w76 x b71.5 cm, 2014. Loan:
Aiko Tezuka/Galerie Michael Janssen. Photo:
Edward Hendricks

Cultural Threads – Tilburg, Netherlands
If you happen to be in the Netherlands in upcoming months make sure to check out  Cultural Threads at the Textiel Museum in Tilburg. Featuring work by Eylem Aladogan, Célio Braga, Hana Miletić, Otobong Nkanga, Mary Sibande, Fiona Tan, Jennifer Tee, Aiko Tezuka and Vincent Vulsma, the exhibition focuses on textiles as  a tool for socio-political reflection. “We live in a world where boundaries between countries and people are becoming increasingly blurred, power relations are shifting radically and cultures are mixing,” states the Textiel Museum. As a medium, the unique qualities of textiles provide artists with a plethora of ways to communicate and explore identity in a globalizing world.  Find more information on the Cultural Threads HERE.  

Artapestry V – Arad, Romania
Gudrun Pagter’s work in Artapestry V is making its final appearance in Romania at the Arad Art Museum as the traveling international exhibition comes to a close. The exhibition, which has traveled across Europe, stopping in Denmark, Sweden and Lativa, features the work of artists from 12 European countries. Presented by the European Tapestry forum,  Artapestry V aims to raise the profile of tapestry as an art form and conjure artistic interest in the medium. Find more information on the European Tapestry Forum’s website HERE.

UNITED STATES

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York. Photo:Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials – New York, NY  
The current Michael Rosenfeld Gallery exhibition, The art of Defiance: Radical Materials, examines how artists such as Barbara Chase-Riboud, Betye Saar, Hannelore Baron, Nancy Grossman have utilized unique, groundbreaking materials in their work. For the exhibition, each artist utilized materials defined by their physicality, “representing a freedom from the constraints of traditional, male-dominated media in art history.” Each artists’ work blurred the traditional boundaries between two and three-dimensional design, which in turn has expanded the traditional categorical defines of art-making. In New York and want to check out the exhibition, visit the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery website HERE.

Casting Shadows, Janice Lessman-Moss, Silk, linen
Digital jacquard, hand woven TC2 loom, painted warp and weft, 2017. Photo: San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

The Empathy of Patience  – San Luis Obispo, CA
Traveling to the West Coast in the next week? Don’t miss out on a chance to see Michael F. Rohde’s solo exhibition, The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The exhibition is a superb display of Rohdes’ subliminal texture and masterful interaction of light and color. For Rohdes, “the  medium of handwoven tapestry certainly requires patience for execution…empathy, compassion and concern for others is at the base of many of these weavings.” Click HERE for more information on The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV – San Jose, CA
Three hours north of The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Focusing on artists who merge fiber media with new information and communication technologies, the exhibition sheds a light on browngrotta arts’ artist Lia Cook’s exploratory pieces. Considering its’ close proximity to Silicon Valley, the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV introduces artists exploring the intersection of fiber and technology to the international community. More information on the exhibition can be found HERE


Sue Lawty Visits Anni Albers at the Tate Modern

‘Our tactile experiences are elemental’  

I was eleven when On Weaving was first published. I was making dens in the woods and wondering what I’d be when I grew up. 

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. (Lawty’s favorite piece in the exhibition.) Photo by Sue Lawty.

 Years later Anni Albers’ seminal book was to become pivotal in the development of my teaching and thinking. I actually bought it in 1983 from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, $8.95, black and white, paperback. Yet it wasn’t the images that first grabbed me, but the four pages of chapter eight: Tactile Sensibility. The phrase “tactile sensibility” was new to me, and even if in my fingertips I knew there was such a thing, I’d never heard it named before and given a serious discourse. 

11sl LEAD V Sue Lawty, lead warp and weft, hand woven & beaten, 24″ x 18″ x 1.5″, 61cm x 48cm x 4cm, 2009

Of course, many important influences shape us as we carve our creative journey, not least Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric, Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen’s groundbreaking publication and the first art book I ever bought. However, it was Anni Albers’ rigorous unpicking of the intrinsic relationship between the structure of weaving and the fibers chosen that fired a key part of my working ethos; as she put it  “…the inner structure together with its effects on the outside …the engineering task of building up a fabric …developing the vocabulary of tactile language.” read her words over and over and used them in teaching alongside practical workshops informed by her open, questioning approach. I still do.

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. Photo by Sue Lawty

Visiting the fabulous Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern in late 2018, I was struck by how rhythm, repetition, a monochromatic/ limited color palette and the austerity of working with the least number of elements, are all essential elements in both our creative outputs. 

Sue Lawty
December 31, 2018


Art Acquisitions: Part 2

A few weeks ago we published the first installment of our Art Acquisition series. Just as the first one did, the second installment reviews pieces browngrotta arts artists have had acquired by major institutions over the last year.

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54" x 43" x 9", 1964. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Studium Faktur,
Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54″ x 43″ x 9″, 1964. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Norma MinkowitzMuseum of Texas Tech University and Boston Museum of Fine Arts , Massachusetts

Norma Minkowitz has had several pieces go to major institutions in the last year. Minkowitz’  piece Journey was acquired by the Museum of Texas Tech University, which is located in Lubbock, Texas. Minkowitz’ piece The Gamble,  which was part of the Daphne Farago Collection, has moved to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Magdalena Abakanowicz – Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota

Magdalena AbakanowiczStudium Faktur was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Studium Faktur, which was one of Abakanowicz’ earlier works (made in the 1960s), was originally part of weaver Mariette Rousseau-Vermette’s collection. Additionally, Abakanowicz’ piece Montana del Fuego was acquired, also through browngrotta arts, by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Montana del Fuego is a strong example of how Abakanowicz was able to fuse weaving and sculpture to create a spectacular three-dimensional wall hanging. The work was part of the Anne and Jacques Baruch Foundation Collection.

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum in London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum in London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

 

 

Maria Laszkiewicz – Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota

Maria Laszkiewicz’s Mask, also a part of the Baruch collection, was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  Laszkiewicz, born in 1898, encouraged a generation of textile artists (such as Abaknaowicz), and was an innovator in the tapestry field.

Simone Pheulpin – V&A, London and Chicago Art Institute, Illinois 

Morphus vii, Gizella K Warburton. Photo: Chris Large

Morphus vii, Gizella K Warburton. Photo: Chris Large

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London recently acquired a piece from Simone Pheulpin’s Eclipse series. One of the textile sculptor’s works was also acquired by the Chicago Art Institute.

Jiro Yonezawa – Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris

The most recent acquisition is a piece by Jiro Yonezawa by the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, France. The museum has commissioned a piece for an exhibition of Japanese bamboo art that opens in November of this year (November 27 – April 9).

Gizella K Warburton – Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

The Fitzwilliam Museum acquired Gizella Warburton’s piece Morphus vii. The wrapped and sculpted vessel forms in Warburton’s ‘Morphus’ series are “quietly resonant of internal and external skins, of scarred and fissured surfaces, of abrasions, bindings and sutures.”

Jennifer Falck LinssenTexas Tech University in Lubbock Texas

The Museum of Texas Tech University has also acquired a wall sculpture by Jennifer Falck Linssen. The sculpture, titled Acumen, was acquired for a new building underway at the university.


Art Out and About: Abroad

From the 11th International Shibori Symposium in Japan to Metamorfizm Magdalena Abakanowicz in Poland, these international summer exhibitions are not to be missed:

11th International Shibori Symposium Nagoya, Japan

The 11th International Shibori Symposium will take place throughout June and July in three separate, yet connected regions of Japan: Tokyo, Nagoya, Yonezawa and Yamagata. The symposium will explore the regions shared legacies of craft and local industry revolving around Safflower, Indigo and Shibori. In addition to workshops and demonstrations, the symposium specially organized ten exhibitions chronicling the history and future of shibori. browngrotta arts artist Carolina Yrarrázaval’s work has been selected to be a part of International Contemporary Art of Shibori at the Tama Art University Museum in Tokyo (July 1 – August 19). This year’s topics of discussion include local industry, technology and tradition, global trade and material transformation. “Local industries create foundations for the community and environment which we build textile practices,” explains the World Shibori Network by “emphasizing sustainability, regional history and people and their skills, we showcase the enduring legacy of artisans and craftspeople who support traditions and inspire future generations.” For more information on the 11th International Shibori Symposium click HERE.

One of Jane Balsgaard's sculptures in SKIBET OG BØLGEN. Photo: Jane Balsgaard

One of Jane Balsgaard’s sculptures in SKIBET OG BØLGEN. Photo: Jane Balsgaard

Jane Balsgaard: SKIBET OG BØLGEN at Kunsthuset Palæfløjen.

In Denmark, Jane Balsgaard has a new solo exhibition at Kunsthuset Palæfløjen. The exhibition’s theme revolves around the ship as an artifact with free interpretation of ships, the sea and waves. SKIBET OG BØLGEN highlights Balsgaard’s unique technique and impeccable craftsmanship. Balsgaard’s use of natural materials, such as handmade paper and found objects has made her a pioneer in the Danish Art Scene. In addition to displaying many of Balsgaard’s pieces, there is also a documentary by Torben Glarbo, in which you can see the production Silent Flight, Balsgaards installation in the Manchester Airport.SKIBET OG BØLGEN will run through June 24th, for more information on this exhibition click HERE.

Tim Johnson's Lines and Fragments

Tim Johnson’s Lines and Fragments. Photo: Tim Johnson

 

Jun Tomita at Johanniterkirche in Feldkirch, Austria (September 14th, 2018 – Sometime in December depending on temperature)

Feldkirch, Austria will be the site of a one-person exhibition of ikat works by Jun Tomita in Japan. For more information of Johanniterkirche and Feldkirch click HERE.

Tim Johnson’s Lines and Fragments at Korbmacher-Museum Dalhausen

In Germany, the Korbacher-Museum Dalhausen will be hosting Tim Johnson’s solo exhibition Lines and Fragments. Johnson, who uses a variety of plant materials from his adopted home of Catalonia, combines the specific characteristics of the plant materials with different weaving techniques, both traditional and experimental, in order create endless possibilities for creativity and expression. Line and Fragments will display Johnson’s recent work, while also exploring his 20 years of braiding research. “As a basketmaker working today I look towards combining tradition and experimentation to lead me into new areas. Looking at traditional woven objects in museums and collections we find only part of the story of the making and are left to imagine the life of the object ourselves,” explains Johnson. “The rightness of design and signs of usage in old traditional baskets fascinate me and I hope to capture some of their magic in my own makings. While I’m neither a fisherman nor a farmer and my baskets are not functional, perhaps my work celebrates our woven cultural inheritance whilst creating something that has not existed before.” In the past, the museum has hosted strong exhibitions of traditional basketry work from Spain, Uganda and France. Johnson’s exhibition will be the first contemporary show the museum has ever done. Lines and Fragments will be on display at the Korbacher-Museum Dalhausen from July 15th until September 9th, after which it will travel to Lichtenfels in southern Germany. For more information on Lines and Fragments click HERE.

Metamorfizm Magdalena Abakanowicz at The Central Museum of Textiles in Łódź, Poland. Photo: The Central Museum of Textiles

Metamorfizm. Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017) in Łódź, Poland

In Łódź, Poland, The Central Museum of Textiles and the Swiss Toms Pauli Foundation opened a collaborative exhibition to pay tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz. Metamorfizm Magdalena Abakanowicz, which is set to run from May 17th through September 9th, seeks to shed a light on how Abakanowicz revolutionized the field of textile art. Abakanowicz’s international career started in Lausanne at the city’s first Tapestry Biennial in 1962. The exhibition has about thirty pieces of Abakanowicz’s work, ranging from mural creations, sculptures in relief and unusual collages. All of which celebrate the diversity and modernity of Abakanowicz’s artistic experimentation from 1965 to 1985. In addition to Abakanowicz’s work, there will be a screening of Kazimierz Mucha’s movie, accompanied by music composed by Bogusław Schäffer. Mucha’s movie footage examines Abakanowicz’s 1968 open-air art installation in Łeb. The installation’s organic material ’Abakans’ “surrender to the gusts of wind, move and integrate into the surrounding landscape of the wild dunes, accentuating their biological provenance.” Metamorfizm not only spotlights Abakanowicz’s work but also calls attention to the intellectual sources of Abakanowicz’s work. For more information on Metamorfizm click HERE.


Art Out and About: US

The opportunities to see great art are endless this summer! Heading to the West Coast for work? Take a detour and visit  the newly opened Nordic Museum to check out Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed in Seattle, WashingtonVisiting friends or family in the Northeast? Make plans to spend the day in New Haven and see Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library on Yale’s campus. Whether you are in the North, South, East or West there are a wide variety of strong exhibitions on display across the US this summer, here are a few of our favorites:

Grethe Wittrock's Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum

Grethe Wittrock’s Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Grethe Wittrock

Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed at the Nordic Museum, Seattle, Washington

The newly opened Nordic Museum hopes to share and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through Nordic art. The museum is the largest in the US to honor the legacy of immigrants from the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Northern Exposure studies “how the Nordic character continues to redefine itself within an evolving global context” by challenging “perceptions of form, gender, identity, nature, technology and the body,” explains the Museum. The exhibition features work by internationally acclaimed artists, including Grethe Wittrock, Olafur Eliasson, Bjarne Melgaard, Jesper Just, Kim Simonsson and Cajsa Von Zeipel. Made of Danish sailcloth, Wittrock’s Nordic Birds immediately attracts the eye upon entering the exhibition. Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed will be on display through September 16, 2018. For more information click HERE.

Traces: Wonder by Lia Cook at the Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo by Jon Bolton

Traces: Wonder by Lia Cook at the Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo by Jon Bolton

Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin

The Racine Art Museum’s new exhibit Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM showcases art advocate and collector Karen Johnson Boyd’s collection of ceramic, clay and fiber art. The exhibition, which is broken up into a series of four individually titled exhibitions, with varying opening and closing dates, highlight Boyd’s interests, accomplishments and lifelong commitment to art. Throughout her life, Boyd was drawn to a diverse array of artistic styles and subjects. Boyd, who collected fiber in an encyclopedic fashion, supported artists of varying ages with varying regional, national and international reputations. Boyd’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home provided her with many display options for her fiber collection. Though baskets encompassed the majority of Boyd’s fiber collection, she regularly altered her environment, adding and subtracting works as she added to her collection. The exhibitions feature work from Dorothy Gill Barnes, Lia Cook, Kiyomi Iwata, Ferne Jacobs, John McQueen, Ed Rossbach, Hideho Tanaka, Mary Merkel-Hess, Norma Minkowitz, Lenore Tawney and Katherine Westphal. Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM will be on display at the Racine Art Museum through December 30th, with exhibited pieces changing over in mid-September. For more information on Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM visit the Racine Art Museum’s website HERE.

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New Haven, Connecticut

In New Haven, Connecticut, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library recently opened Text and Textile. The exhibition, which will be on display through August 12th, explores the relationship and intersection between text and textile in literature and politics.Text and Textile draws on Yale University’s phenomenal collection of literature tied to textiles, from Renaissance embroidered bindings to text from Anni Albers’ On Weaving. Additionally, the exhibition features: Gertrude Stein’s waistcoat; manuscript patterns and loom cards from French Jacquard mills; the first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s plays; the “Souper” paper dress by Andy Warhol; American samplers; Christa Wolf’s “Quilt Memories”; Zelda Fitzgerald’s paper dolls for her daughter; Edith Wharton’s manuscript drafts of “The House of Mirth”; an Incan quipu; poetry by Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, Susan Howe and Walt Whitman; and “The Kelmscott Chaucer” by William Morris. For more information on Text and Textile click HERE.

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Houston, Texas

The traveling exhibition Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America is now on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Texas. The exhibition, which is set to travel around the United States through the end of 2019, chronicles the history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Curated by Josephine Stealy and Kristin Schwain, the exhibition is divided into five sections: Cultural Origins, New Basketry, Living Traditions, Basket as Vessel and Beyond the Basket which aim to show you the evolution of basketry in America. Today, some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. However, other work to combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America features work by browngrotta arts’ artists Polly Adams Sutton, Mary Giles, Nancy Moore Bess, Christine Joy, Nancy Koenigsberg, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Ferne Jacobs, Gyöngy Laky, Kari Lønning, John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Leon Niehues, Ed Rossbach, Karyl Sisson and Kay Sekimachi.

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Handheld at the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

The Aldrich Museum’s new exhibition Handheld explores how contemporary artists’ and designers’ perceive the meaning of touch. Touch is one of the most intimate and sometimes unappreciated senses. Today, the feeling our hands are most familiar with are our that of our handheld devices and electronics. Touch is no longer solely used to hold objects such as pencils and tools, in fact, touch is increasingly taking the form of a swipe, where the sensation is ignored in favor to the flat visual landscapes of our own selection. “Handheld takes a multifarious approach—the hand as means of creation, a formal frame of reference” explains the Aldrich Museum. It serves the viewer as “a source of both delight and tension as they experience sensual objects in familiar domestic forms, scaled for touch, that can be looked upon but not felt.” The group exhibition, which features work by Kay Sekimachi will be on display until January 13, 2019. For more information on Handheld click HERE.