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robertogreco : louisebourgeois   3

Alexandra Lange on craft, making and gender
"The journalists, artists and curators at the press preview for the Museum of Arts and Design's new exhibition, Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Mid-century and Today, were about 90 per cent female – an unusually high percentage, according to the museum's publicist.

But the imbalance seemed about right, in that it reflected the continuing, uneasy, and gendered relationship between people who make things out of yarn, clay or cloth and people who make things out of glass, steel or plastic. The editors of a few blogs seemed unsure whether the contents of the show – four hanging woven-wire sculptures by Ruth Asawa, screen-printed geometric textile designs by Anni Albers, a test panel for the gold-embroidered tapestries for the Ford Foundation by Sheila Hicks, along with work by 39 other artists – even counted as "design" for their purposes.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, an era when painting, sculpture and architecture were dominated by men, women had extensive impact in alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics and metals," reads the wall text.

Starting with the Bauhaus weaving workshop, eventually led by the supremely talented Gunta Stolzl, modern women with visual talent were shunted into creative professions closer to traditional women's work, and many of them found what they made then treated as lesser-than. Half of MAD's collection is work by women, and with this exhibit, curated by Jennifer Scanlan, the museum hopes to expand ideas about who, and what, constitutes mid-century design.

The problem of terminology has bedeviled this work from the start. When the Museum of Modern Art first showed fibre art in the 1969 show Wall Hangings, artist Louise Bourgeois wrote, in the magazine Craft Horizons, "the pieces in the show rarely liberate themselves from decoration." Fear of fibre, it seems, lives on.

The irony is that, while women were largely unwelcome in architecture and industrial design as practitioners, male architects and manufacturers found they couldn't live without them. Most of the highlighted mid-century designers worked with architects to bring nature, texture and colour to their hard-edged spaces, and several worked with manufacturers as designers and translators – for publicity purposes – of new styles and materials for a mass audience."



"Today craft seems to be heading in two directions simultaneously. Handicraft has never been more popular among women – it seems like every third person on Instagram has bought a handloom to ape Hicks or Maryanne Moodie, while companies like Wool and the Gang give you the option of ready-made or knit-your-own trendy, chunky apparel.

There is a renewed interest in personal making that has been nourished by social networks and is now being reabsorbed by mainstream consumer culture, without the politics and made by who-knows-whose hand. Urban Outfitters, which once sold an Anni Albers washer necklace kit, now sells the Magical Thinking Macrame Wall Hanging.

"On the flip side, there's the emergence of technological craft, with which architects seem to feel more comfortable and which does turn up on design sites like this one. (The computer defeminises everything.) Here again screens of various types provide a bridge between the hard and the flexible, the wall and the textile.

Petra Blaisse's contributions to many OMA projects (the carpets at the Seattle Public Library, for example) are machine-made textiles that, like Bertoia screens, humanise spaces as a form of permanent nature. The openwork pattern on her curtains for Machado and Silvetti's Chazen Museum nods to the sheers and geometries popular in mid-century designs.

Danish architect Mette Ramsgard Thomsen calls her work "digital crafting," and her 2012 Shadow Play installation demonstrates another way to introduce softness and hanging into built space. In that piece, long curls of pine veneer were bent into loops, connected with copper wire, and sandwiched between two pieces of glass in a storefront. The effect was like a carved screen, but lighter, and far less effort. It could be included in a new MoMA exhibition called Wall Hanging, one far more antiseptic than its 1969 predecessor.

I'll freely admit my preference for the wilder shores of the handmade, irregular and a little too bright. Even if Louise Bourgeois didn't find it challenging enough on first encounter, the continuing gender politics around craft, as well as the difficulty around the classification of the work of people like Albers, Asawa, Bryk, Hicks, Tawney and Phillips, reveal a spikiness that continues to command attention."
design  craft  alexandralange  gender  architecture  2015  industrialdesign  materials  glvo  annialbers  louisebourgeois  guntastolzl  bauhaus  ruthasawa  art  history  modernism  makers  makermovement  handmade  textiles  petrablaisse  metteramsgardthomsen  sheilahicks  rutbryk  leonoretawney  marywalkerphillips 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The places that scare you | Art & Architecture | Guardian Unlimited Arts
"Obsessed with rooms, dolls, missing limbs and mirrors, Louise Bourgeois's work, often drawing on her troubled childhood, lures novelist Siri Hustvedt into her own past. At 95, the artist is still producing art of terrifying emotional power"
art  dolls  louisebourgeois  glvo 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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