'Cloth- wrapped, compressed, nonutilitarian, has played an early and important role in the twentieth century art concepts. Dadaist Man Ray wrapped an 'enigma', 'Enigma of Isidore Ducasse', 1920.
Christo some forty years later wrapped a building; 'The Museum of Modern Art Packaged', 1968. In the early 60's Claes Oldenbury had introduced cloth (muslin) as a basic material for his art forms- 'Wrinkled, torn and creased surfaces, rippled edges, expressing the physical sensations, visual perceptions and poetic associations that the object arouses in the viewer are assumed to be relative entirely to his own experience.
Christo Javacheff, 'The Museum of Modern Art Packaged', 1968.
'Soft Drainpipe - Blue (Cool) Version', Claes Oldenberg, 1967, Acrylic on canvas and steel.
The interest in cloth has extended to the use of compression, laundry elements for his environments and totem-like forms. Working directly with cloth and other 'non-art' materials, some artists have broken the barriers and changed the definition of what constitutes art. (Man Ray, Robert Rauschenberg, Eva Hesse, Sam Gillian, Colette.)
' Sans II', Eva Hesse,1968, Fiberglass and polyester resin.
Interest in dye and needle techniques stimulated the increased use of silk and, especially, cotton in the mid-70's. Fabric- usually fine counts of mill woven cotton- became a prime material. Dyed/ stuffed/ machine embroidered/ darned/ fabricated and woven.
A Few Artists whose work I was particularly inspired by:
Francoise Grossen, 'Metamorphosis 1.5', 1986, (braiding; manila rope); knots ropes using Chinese twists which emphasise the ply and the natural luster of the hard twisted, honed smooth sisal. Uses ropes which have a smilar gradations of colour, so create a strong aesthetic of colour and form. Grossen fixes the ropes into bisymmetrical and biomorphic forms, which are sculpted into freize-like forms.
'Metamorphosis I.5', Francoise Grossen, 1986, mixed media, 38" x 14''.
Ritzi and Peter Jacobi, 'Ohne Titel', 1974, (tapestry, drawing; goat hair, horse hair, paper); combines wrapped elements and tapestry together with charcoal drawing on great sheets of 'rice' paper. The combination is unified by the palette and image-especially the fibre-like drawing and drawing-like fringes.
Jolanta Owidzka, 'Leather Exercise', 1976, (weaving; hemp, leather, silk, linen); old industrial beltings of waxed leather recycled for a small hanging. To exploit tonal subleties within the leather surface, she wove the beltings through a spaced warp of hard polished linen. There is a strong aesthetic in the stiff, patinated leather of the discarded industrial beltings.
Madeleine Bosscher, '7 Banen', 1972, (knotted pile; polyethylene tubes); Bosscher knotted transparent plastic tubing into a woven ground, which creates the luminous relief. The precision of the sheared contours and the symmetry of the minimal forms, alongside the transparency of the polyethylene tubes, creates a really successful Minimal sculpture. I also liked her 'Small Squares' piece, which was tens of thousands of mill cotton squares wovem into the white-on-white hanging. The shadow lines and the matted thread ends produce a richly opaque texture. Bosscher's work relies on the collective impact of an object, which is systematically multiplied.
Magdalena Abakanowicz, 'Wheel and Rope', 1973; love the industrial nature of her sculpture and the mammoth scale, which seems to command the space its presented in. The sense of space is another key element in her work, which plays alongside voids and lighting. Out of all the artists featured in this book, I found her work to be the most thought-provoking, yet the understanding of the fibre's materiality is always at the forefront.
'Wheel and Rope', 1973, wood, burlap and hemp; Wheel: dia. 234 cm; 122 cm Ropes: lengths variable.
Sachiko Morino, 'An Air Sent from Switzerland', 1977, (knotting; cotton rope); Morino packages air in her many roped works; her hallmark is the void she contains. The object's main frame is made of rope, leaving the inside visibly hollow.
Sheila Hicks- Works with cloth and linen on a large scale. Often uses iridescent colours, though varies the thicknesses. Unlike the other fabric artists I have looked at so far, she works with several techniques in one piece, such as wrapping, hanging, stacking, braiding and weaving. Similarly to Abakanowicz, Hicks creates a suitable environment for her work;
'It will concern itself with the communication through the language of textiles, to conceive and to realise a certain nuber of practical and personal objects'.
'Linen Lean-To', Sheila Hicks, tapestry bas-relief, 1967–68.The artist conceived the work in 1967–68 after a winter trip to Normandy, France, where she saw houses with snow piled high on the roofs. She successfully re-creates the effect of this compelling sight with a totally unsuspected material.'Voyage of Serpentina', Sheila Hicks, 1994.
Cynthia Schira, 'Seascape 1, 1975, (weft brocade/ cotton/ wool); The brocading elements are cotton tapes pre-dyed in a range of half-tone shades. Some of the tapes eccentrically weave in and out of the others- a technique that extends the weaver's range of expression. It also serves to tie down the very long weft floats.
'Four and Three', 1973, (weaving; aluminium/ linen); On a conventional handloom Schira wove flat aluminium strips through linen warps, then lulled the lower portions into cylindrical forms. The look of the slubby grey linen against the polished metal is very aesthetically pleasing, and ties in with the formal composition.