Thursday, February 27, 2014

Principles of Modernism:No Frame/No Border

The Royal Academy in London, 1881

Modernist painters turning away from the Academy----the elite art establishment---showed their independence by rejecting elaborate frames that were a requirement for exhibition.

French ministers in a gallery at the Musee d'Orsay

The taste and politics of framing are communicated in subtle fashion but we can see the differences between modern/not modern by comparing two painters: Frank Stella and Rembrandt

Frank Stella piece with a minimal frame

Rembrandt self-portrait with carved gold leafed frame

Frank Stella---no visible frame?

Rembrandt self-portrait

Stella gallery exhibit

Stella Number 886

Stella's shaped canvasses might have a thin strip to protect the edges.

A little photo manipulating
shows the absurdity of breaking the rules.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Needlepoint design by Sophie Taeuber-Arp, 1918

Sophie Taeuber-Arp 1889-1943

Born in Switzerland, Sophie Taeuber worked in Zurich, Germany and Paris. She and her husband Hans or Jean Arp were important figures in the Dada movement in Zurich. She used sculpture, painting, costume design, dance, weaving and embroidery to express her interest in basic color, geometry and line. She taught textile design at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts from 1916-1928.

Needlepoint embroidery, Symetrie Pathetique, 1916-1917

We've been looking at asymmetry, a principle on which her work is based.

Painting, Moving Circles, 1933

Design for a textile

Costume inspired by Hopi Kachinas

Sophie and her sister Erika Taeuber 
wearing the costumes in 1922.

She beaded a series of reticules (handbags) in the teens.

Read more about Taeuber-Arp here:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Asymmetry = Modernism

Symmetry (within the block and within the quilt)
is a hallmark of traditional pattern.

Professional pattern designers tried some
innovative asymmetries in the 1930s
like this "Country Gardens" design from Mountain Mist.

Alissa Haight Carlton

Asymmetry is a hallmark of today's modern quilt movement.

Lee Heinrich, Shooting Star top
Josee Carrier, Reflection Mini-Quilt

Heather Scrimsher, Refracted Sunset

Monday, February 17, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart
Macrahanish, 1955

Robert Stewart (1924-1995) is characterized as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. He taught at the Glasgow School of Art where he was chair of the printed textiles department.

Robert Stewart Design 1946-1995
by Liz Arthur features his Sunman from 1954 on the cover.

He was one of the designers for Liberty's contemporary furnishing fabric line Young Liberty  in the early fifties. In Twentieth Century Pattern Design, Lesley Jackson described his work as "light-hearted figurative motifs...and engaging whimsical abstracts....featuring classic Contemporary devices such as stringing (fine lines linking motifs)...." Stewart's designs also show a debt to surrealist sculpture: Calder's wires, Henry Moore's human figure.

Stewart's prints often reflect the primitive influence on modern design.

A few Stewart prints have been licensed to the Glasgow School of Art.
See some of the reprinted Stewart textiles here at True Up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Traditional patchwork patterns often are based on
 four-way mirror image symmetry.

That repetitive pattern within the block is very appealing.

Symmetry within the set adds to the characteristic look.

Symmetry was refreshing in the 1970s
after decades of asymmetric modernism.

German page design from 1928

Kazimir Malevich, 
Suprematist Painting: Eight Red Rectangles,

Jackson Pollock, Stenographic Figure, 1942
Museum of Modern Art

The downside: So much symmetry can be static
or boring (do note flipped fan at top right.)

One reason these early 20th-century quilts
fusing symmetry/asymmetry
are so intriguing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Georges Barbier

La Roseraie de Bagatelle
Design by Georges Barbier
for Bianchini Ferier
About 1920

Georges Barbier 1882-1932

Barbier was a fashion illustrator in Paris in the first decades of the 20th century, an artist who defined his era.

Valerie Steele in the Berg Companion to Fashion notes that bestselling novelist Michael Arlen in his 1924 book The Green Hat used Barbier's style to convey a certain sophistication:

"She stood carelessly like the women in Georges Barbier's [illustrations] who know how to stand carelessly."

Barbier drew many textiles designs in his pochiors (silk screen illustrations.) Caroline McCall, costume
designer for Downton Abbey, says Lady Edith's new look was inspired by Barbier.

A few actual textiles attributed to him survive.

Venise fete de nuit 
By Georges Barbier 1921
Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum

This view of Venice on silk echoes the fantasy orientalism and vivid palette of the Ballets Russe, which fascinated Paris in the teens.

Barbier designed costumes for the theater, jewelry, wallpaper.

His costumes for the Valentino film Monsieur Beaucaire can
still be seen in the 1925 movie.

Dealer Meg Andrews has a rare piece of Barbier fabric,

a woven silk brocade from Bianchini Ferrier

with his characteristic figures standing carelessly.

A pair of painted fans survive:

Left: Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1914
Right: Collection of the Victoria and Albert, 1911

See the fans: