Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Spun: An adventure in Textiles at the Denver Art Museum

Recently the Denver Art Museum had a museum-wide exhibition and celebration of the newly expanded textile gallery.  I particularly liked the Red, White and Bold: Masterpieces of Navajo Design  (1840 - 1870) exhibit that is on the second level of the Hamilton Building.
I love the bold, geometric patterns and the primary colors of these Navajo weavings.
In the new gallery, you will find a variety of textiles from all over the world.  The piece on the left is from Bhutan, early 1900.  It is a Rain Clock which consists of a length of woven fabric that is often decorated.  The travel cape on the right is from Japan, 1800's.  Inspiration for this cape came from the those worn by the Christian missionaries who came to Japan in the early 1500's.
Titled Spring, this tapestry came from Poland and was woven during the World War II.  With spring, the earth comes to life.  Flowers are blooming, the fish are abundant in the streams and rivers and spring fever feed the lovers beneath the trees.  The whole piece reminds me of a painting by Marc Chagall.

Not part of the Museum's collection, but I see many similarities of Chagall's painting, Birth, with the tapestry above.  How appropriate that the titles Birth and Spring have similar meanings.
Both sides of this quilt from China (1990) is three dimensional.  The front is a talisman to protect one from the toads, centipedes , spiders, scorpions and snakes.
The other side is geometric patchworks of pandas, bamboo , birds and dragons

I just love the colors of this Mantle (Llacota) from Bolivia (1700's).  Woven on a back strap loom, it is an ancient piece worn by Aymara men.  The striped pattern and colors used indicates it is from the Potosi region.
I have always been attracted to Ikats and this one is spectacular:  Bukhara - 1800's.  The warp was dyed for each specific color before the fabric was woven.
American artist, Chuck Close who is known for his oil paintings, spent four years working on his technique on how to transfer an image into a textile.  He achieved this by using different colors silk yarns.  when viewing the face from different angles, the face of Lucas Samaras disappears and then from another angle, his face appears. 
Rain Has No Father? - El Anatsui living in Nigeria - 2008
The photo does not do this tapestry justice, it is huge.  The artist created this tapestry with found bottle tops and copper wire.  By flattening the bottle tops, he was able to create a work with so much movement without being rigid and hard.
The new textile gallery is located on the sixth floor of the north building.  Along with all the textiles on display, there is a space designated to showcase the different techniques and instruments used in creating the various textiles; needle point, lace making, sewing, weaving, quilting, batik....
This case shows two copper batik Tjaps and some batik fabrics.  The Tjaps are decorative stamps that are dipped in wax and then stamped on the fabric in a particular pattern.  The wax on the fabric will then resist the dyes.  I actually have one and they are pretty intricate.

Being an interior designer, I love textiles.  Having had a loom, I can appreciate the textures and colors that go into making these textiles so incredible.  

An afternoon at the Denver Art Museum is a perfect way to see this magnificent collection and also get out of the heat.  Pick up a map and guide to find out where all the special exhibitions are in the museum. The show runs through September 22.

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