Textile Art – a history held in fibre

Lenore Tawney, Cloud Labyrinth (detail, installation view), 1983, canvas and linen, Courtesy of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundatio, New York. Photo courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Centre

Once relegated as simple handcraft, textiles are suddenly everywhere. In the last decade, both artists and amateurs have turned in large numbers to textile processes, driven by a series of major international exhibitions of 20th century seminal fiber artists.

During the last months of lockdown, and possibly due an increase in anxiety, this reencounter in search of soft pathways, of handmade artefacts, has only grown. Paths that were forgotten return to the scene together with the slowly, repetitive and comforting processes of knitting and painting.

Textiles have long been nominally part of the art world and one of the oldest forms of art in human civilization. At its inception, it was not focused on looks, but for practical purposes—such as clothing or blankets to keep warm. This dates all the way back to prehistoric times, and anthropologists estimate that this is between 100,000 to 500,000 years ago.

Particularly since the 1950s Fibre Arts movement and the wider craft revival of the 1970s. 

One of the leaders in this market has been the American artist Faith Ringgold, who started making powerful two-dimensional and three-dimensional textile works in the 1970s, but we also have other big stars like Lenore Tawney, Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Harmony Hammond, and Sheila Hicks.

Faith Ringgold is an artist and activist.

Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) was an influential figure in the postwar fiber arts movement with impactful and groundbreaking work that continues to reverberate today. Known for her monumental sculptural weavings, Tawney’s practice also included drawing, collage, and assemblage. 

Sheila Hicks (born in Hastings, Nebraska, 1934 ) is an American artist. She lives and works in Paris, France. Prior to that, she lived and worked in Guerrero, Mexico (1959–63). She is known for her innovative and experimental weavings and sculptural textile art that incorporate distinctive colors, natural materials, and personal narratives.

Sheila Hicks

These are just some of the examples of textile art that we love. But you can find a lot more to get inspired online!


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