Monthly archives: January, 2015

The Resurgence of Interest in Fiber Sculpture and Art Textiles Will Continue in 2015

Last year was an extraordinary one for those of us who appreciate contemporary art fiber and art textiles. More than 10 exhibitions opened in the US and abroad. In October, the art newspaper reported that “textiles are gaining international stature in art museums” and further that “[c]ommercial interest is on the rise,” quoting art advisor Emily Tsingou: “Textile [art] has entered the mainstream.” Soft Fabrics-Have Solid Appeal. Below is a roundup of exhibitions and reviews from last year and a guide to what to expect in 2015.

Mainstream attention began with the coverage of Sheila Hicks‘ inclusion

Sheila Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). Photograph by Bill Orcutt

in the Whitney Biennial in March and was followed by coverage of the restoration of her remarkable 1960s tapestries at the Ford Foundation in New York Sheila Hicks Tapestries to Again Hang at Ford Foundation. In June, the Art Institute of Chicago’s textile galleries reopened, featuring 96-year-old Ethel Stein’s work, in Ethel Stein, Master institute of Chicago logo

September saw three fiber-related exhibitions; the Museum of Arts and Design opened What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision (closes

Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen, Katherine Westphal and others Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?, Photo by Tom grotta

February 8, 2015),Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen, Katherine Westphal and others Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?, Photo by Tom grotta

February 8, 2015), which featured significant textiles from the permanent collection by Anni Albers, Kay Sekimachi, Katherine Westphal, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen and Trude Guermonprez, while The Drawing Center’s: Thread-Lines offered Anne Wilson creating fiber art in situ

Ann Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center, photo by tom Grotta

Ann Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center, photo by Tom Grotta

together with a collection of works by Lenore Tawney, Louise Bourgeois and others. Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, featured a series of large photographic weavings by Aleksandra Stoyanov of the Ukraine

Aleksandra Stoyanov Tefen Open Museum exhibition traveled to Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, photo copyright Tefen Open Museum

Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, curated from the 2013 “Aleksandra Stoyanov” Tefen Open Museum, Israel exhibition. photo copyright Tefen Open Museum

and now Israel, described as “warp and weft paintings.”

In October, Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present, opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston with works by 34 artists including

Fiber: Sculpture 1960 — present opening, photo by Tom Grotta

Fiber: Sculpture 1960 — present opening, photo by Tom Grotta

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Ritzi Jacobi and Naomi Kobayashi. The Boston Globe called the exhibition “[s]plendid, viscerally engaging…groundbreaking;” the exhibition catalog (available at was pronounced by Blouin art info, “an amazing resource for anyone interested in learning more about the medium.” Art Info – Art in the Air Fiber Sculpture 1960 Present October also saw a survey of the work of sculptor and poet, Richard Tuttle, at the Tate in London, Richard Tuttle: tuttle.tate.modern
I Don’t Know, Or The Weave of Textile Language in which Tuttle investigated the importance of textiles throughout history, across his remarkable body of work and into the latest developments in his practice. Tate Modern – Richard Tuttle I Don’t Know or Weave Textile Language

Throughout the year, Innovators and Legends, with work by 50 fiber
artists, including Adela Akers, Nick Cave, Katherine Westphal and Sherri Smith toured the US, exhibiting at museums in Colorado, Iowa and Kentucky. The fiber fanfest culminated at Art Basel in Miami Beach in December, where Blouin’s Art Info identified a full complement of fiber works and textiles in its listing, “Definitive Top 11 Booths, “ including Alexandra da Cunha’s compositions of mass-produced beach towels and various colored fabrics at Thomas Dane Gallery, a Rosemarie Trockel embroidered work at Galerie 1900-2000, marble and dyed-fabric pieces by Sam Moyer at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen and woven paintings by Brent Wadden at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Blouin Art info – The Definitive Top-11 Booths at Art Basel Miami Beach.

And what’s ahead in 2015?

More auctions and exhibitions that include fiber sculpture and art textiles are scheduled for 2015. Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present will
open at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio on February 7th and travel to the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa in May. BCA_color_studyInnovators and Legends will open at contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma in February, as well. In April, the Tate in London will open The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay, which will show how the artist

Sonia Delaunay Tate Modern

Sonia Delaunay Prismes electriques 1914 Centre Pompidou Collection, Mnam / Cci, Paris © Pracusa 2013057

dedicated her life to experimenting with color and abstraction, bringing her ideas off the canvas and into the world through tapestry, textiles, mosaic and fashion.

Also in April, the Museum of Arts and Design will host Pathmakers:

Lenore Tawney in her Coenties Slip studio, New York, 1958. Courtesy of Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Photo by David Attie

Lenore Tawney in her Coenties Slip studio, New York, 1958.
Courtesy of Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Photo by David Attie

Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today, featuring work by Sheila Hicks,  Lenore Tawney and Dorothy Liebes

In June, the Toms Pauli Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland will celebrate the International Tapestry Biennials held there from 1962 to toms.pauli.logo1995 and display work by the Polish textile artist and sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz, in an exhibition entitled, Objective Station.

Also this summer, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Baie St Paul in Musée.d'Art.ContemporaindeBaie.StPaul

Mariette Rousseau Vermette Portrait by Tom Grotta

Mariette Rousseau Vermette Portrait by Tom Grotta

Quebec, Canada will examine the work of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, who participated in five of the Lausanne Biennials.

From April 24 – May 3, 2015, browngrotta arts will host Influence and Evolution, Fiber Sculpture then and now at our barn/home/gallery space in Wilton, Connecticut. In its 27-year history, browngrotta arts

InfluenceandEvolutionAdhas highlighted a group of artists – Sheila Hicks, Ritzi Jacobi, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach and others – who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture. The influence of their experiments has been felt for decades. Influence and Evolution, Fiber Sculpture then and now, will explore that impact and examine how artists have used textile materials and techniques in the decades since, by juxtaposing works by artists who rebelled against tapestry tradition in the 60s, 70s and 80s,

Françoise Grossen, From the Mermaid Series IV, 1983, photo by Tom Grotta

Françoise Grossen, From the Mermaid Series IV, 1983, photo by Tom Grotta

including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lia Cook, Kay Sekimachi and Françoise Grossen, with works from a later generation of artists, all born after 1960, through whom fiber sculpture continues to evolve. These artists, including María Eugenia Dávila and Eduardo Portillo of Venezuela, Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium and Naoko Serino of Japan, work in a time when classification of medium and material presents less of a constraint and fiber and fiber techniques can be more readily explored for their expressive potential alone.

“It is rare to find so many inventive, compelling works in one show, and it astounds that many are so little known,” wrote Kirsten Swenson in Art in America, about Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present, in October 2014. Art in America Magazine – reviews: Fiber Sculpture 1960-present. This spring, in Influence and Evolutionbrowngrotta arts will offer dozens more significant works of fiber art for collectors to appreciate and new audiences to discover — more than two dozen works by fiber pioneers and another 30 more recent fiber explorations. We hope you will visit the exhibition, order the catalog or both. Please contact us for more information about what’s in store.

Art/Text Events: Helena Hernmarck and Norma Minkowitz at Connecticut Libraries

Helena Hernmarck Portrait, photo by Tom Grotta

Helena Hernmarck Portrait, photo by Tom Grotta

This Sunday, January 25, 2015, award-winning artist Helena Hernmarck will speak at the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877 from 2-3:30 p.m. A longtime resident of Ridgefield, Hernmarck was born in Sweden and educated at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. Hernmarck is known for her monumental tapestries, found in numerous corporate and museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Arts and Design, the Detroit Art Institute, Time-Warner, Kellogg, Pitney Bowes and Newsday, which are based on photographs, rephotographed collages and her own watercolors. “It is easy to affix the label photo-realism or trompe l’oeil to her work, but the medium itself, full of surprising surface effects, rejects such classifications,” according to Sigrid Wortmann Weltge, professor emeritus, history of art and design, Philadelphia University. “Hernmarck is thoroughly modern and asserts her rights as an artist by defying all rules. Ignoring that a weaving should be flat, for example, she superbly manipulates not only the textile but the viewer as well. Through the use of perspective and shading, her iconography appears dimensional while it is in effect flat. Yet the surface, as a result of deftly combined yarns of varying density, is dimensional. Hernmarck draws on various sources for her subject matter, nature as well as mundane objects. Though unideological, her imagery is, nevertheless, entirely in tune with contemporary life, immediately understood yet unexpected and mysterious.” (“Helena Hernmarck,” American Craft magazine, Sigrid Wortmann Weltge, Dec 1999/Jan 2000). SNOW DATE: Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 2p.m. The Library encourages registration as the talk is likely to fill up quickly. For more information: tel: 203.438.2282;

Norma Minkowitz artist talk at Drawn to the Edge reception at the Westport Library. Photo by Tom Grotta

Norma Minkowitz artist talk at Drawn to the Edge reception at the Westport Library. Photo by Tom Grotta

Beginning this month, visitors to the library in Westport, Connecticut can view Drawn to the Edge, an exhibit of small sculptures and textured pen-and-ink drawings combined with collage and fiber by Westport resident, Norma Minkowitz, whose work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) and Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Minkowitz has long used stiffened crochet to create airy, three-dimensional objects. In these, “[e]ach of the smallest elements — a crossing of threads, an individual knot, is essential to her realization of the final form, in a manner not unlike the complex assembling of individual cells to form a complete organism,” wrote David McFadden, former Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts & Design, New York of Minkowitz’s work. “This transformation is made possible only by cells held in genetically predetermined arrangements. By paying homage to the basic construction principles of the natural world, the artist achieves forms that appear to have been given the breath of life.” Minkowitz has been creating her intensely detailed pen-and-ink drawings for many years, but only recently begun to exhibit them. Like her sculptures, they are complex assemblages that include collage elements that the artist says, “interest, intrigue or scare me.” The artist spoke last week at the opening of Drawn to the Edge after being introduced by Chris Timmons, the Library exhibits coordinator, as a “treasure.” The cross-hatching in her drawings Minkowitz described as a link to stitching. She explains that she works spontaneously without a preplanned ending, letting the final work enfold on its own.

The Seekers collage/drawing by Norma Minkowitz. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Seekers collage/drawing by Norma Minkowitz. Photo by Tom Grotta

In The Seekers, for example, she had included cutouts of birds, but it was not until she came across an image of Picasso’s eyes, “so dark and piercing,” that “I knew how to finish the piece.” Minkowitz spoke some about the inspiration for her imagery, but added that she doesn’t wish to over explain her works. “I want them to be open to interpretation,” she says, “I like it when people see something else entirely.” Drawn to the Edge runs through March 25th in The Great Hall of the Westport Library, 20 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880 | 203.291.4800 | Hours: Mon-Thurs 9-9 , Fri 9-6 , Sat 9-5 , Sun 1-5;