Walter Potter: Rabbits’ Village School
It was popular during the 19th century, and gradually becoming a minority curiosity during the 20th, but then suddenly there has been a revival of the art of taxidermy – or a growth in the use of taxidermy in art. In the 19th century the amateur Walter Potter made sentimental tableaux which can excite responses through the vowels from ah to ugh. (Image above, more images and an article here)
Damien Hirst: Away from the flock (from here)
Somehow not really seen as taxidermy (I don’t know the technical details of taxidermy as opposed to – or in addition to preservation in formaldehyde) the conceptual art of Damien Hirst burst onto the scene with a shark, halved cows, sheep, …. And now he is certainly not alone. A few years ago I saw and was intrigued by the work of Claire Morgan, which was when I started thinking about the use of taxidermy in sculpture.
Claire Morgan: Fantastic Mr Fox (from here)
This was followed by watching a BBC programme about Polly Morgan in the series What do artists do all day? You can watch here and here. There seem to be so many artists now working with taxidermy as part of their sculpture – there are links here and here to some of them.
I find that my initial negative reaction to most of this art gets in the way of my thinking about it. It has nothing to do with guts and feathers and fur, but somehow it feels disrespectful to the beasts if the quality of the work draws attention to the taxidermy rather than to the idea being explored in the piece. I thought of Hirst’s work as art first and considered the technique of presentation seriously only when I read that the shark had to be replaced because it was rotting. It’s the worth of the artistic expression which engages me rather than the particularities of technique in this case. I found that Claire Morgan’s work also engaged me, but perhaps that is because I saw and walked round it, observing, thinking, feeling – whereas the other work is simply represented in photographs and therefore not sufficient to make a considered enough judgement.
Shauna Richardson: Bulldog (from here)
And then I found out about the ‘crochetdermy’ of Shauna Richardson. She, with one tool, overwhelmingly one material, and lots of time achieves remarkable results. Here and here are more links about the crochet work. It certainly is extraordinary craft, as was shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition The Power of Making, but is it art? I certainly do not think it’s any less worthy of consideration simply because she does not use the body of the original beast. Like all work, I reckon that each individual piece should be weighed on its own merits, and not lumped in with however the technique of its making is considered at any point in time.
I’m curious to know what you think.
Tags: applique, assemblage, textiles, vintage embroidery
This spring when I received a newsletter from the Danforth Gallery in Livingston, Montana, a surprise discovery of an artist working in fabric appeared on the pages. As I went looking for more information about the woman who created the work of fiber art pictured above, it became clear to me that somehow in the small population state of Montana a fiber artist, like me, seems to imagine that we know of all the working textile artists in the state. It was my pleasure to discover that Maggy Rozycki Hiltner lives in the small town of Red Lodge which is south of Interstate 90 and is often reached as the terminus of a drive over the Beartooth Hiway that begins at Cooke City near the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park; a place I could visit on a day trip.
In this small rural and somewhat isolated town Maggy creates her fiber pieces using images cut from pieces of vintage embroidery or images she has embroidered by using patterns from the 20’s, 30′, 40’s and 50’s. These embroidery patterns were often found on the pages of women’s magazines such as”Women’s Home Companion”, “Needlecraft”, “Peterson’s” or “Ladies Home Journal” to name a few of the resources you can still find on Etsy or Ebay today. Back in my younger years a trip to the local “five and dime” store would be the resource for books of design transfers which could be ironed on to fabric or there was always a supply of stamped kitchen towels and pillow cases that could be purchased. The thread most often used was a six strand cotton embroidery floss. Sometimes today you can find a collection of embroidered and/or appliqued household pieces at thrift stores and garage sales. If the stitching needs some repairing the same cotton floss used 50 years ago is still sold and can be used to make some repairs, if desired. It is these used, older pieces of embroidery that Maggie finds and uses to create her artwork today.
In a wonderful interview on the blog:
http://www.mrxstitch.com/future-heirlooms/. the interviewer gives a wonderful description of how the artist’s work impacted the author.
April 24 to August 16, 2015
Dr. Ruth Tam Lim Project Room
Mesa Arts Center
visit the Mesa Arts Center website
September 26, 2014 to January 18, 2015
Erie Art Museum
visit the Erie Art Museum website
March 7 to July 5, 2015
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
San Jose, CA
visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles website
If you will be near one of the shows her work is sure to delight the exploring, playful artist within each of us. For some, it will be the remembering of the images she uses from our days as a child or young adult, or even those times when we have picked up and been tempted to buy a piece or two of embroidered household linens.
Other artists have included pieces of vintage embroidery in their work, Sue Reno, http://www.suereno.com/ showed pieces of her work incorporating vintage linens in a recent article for Quilting Arts and Deb Lacativa uses vintage linens for the cloth she dyes for sale and in the work she creates http://lacativa.com/ and http://morewgalo.blogspot.com/ .
What pure delight to discover an unknown to me textile artist living in a small Montana town. An artist whose work reaches from coast to coast here in the USA and brings a new vision to those who see her work.
Why quilts – rather than paintings … do you sometimes wonder? Whenever SAQA’s Art Quilt News pops into my inbox (you can subscribe here, it’s free) I ponder this question – the quilts shown in it are each part of an exhibition somewhere. Of course, seeing the work on screen is nothing like seeing it for real, whether its a quilt or painting or other medium … so the quality of the photography for what we see on screen is going to make a difference, especially for quilts, with the texture of the quilting often so very important in the design concept.
This week, thumbs up for fabric in this quilt, Yellow Pod, by Colleen Ansbaugh -
The fabric is monoprinted, which at first made me think – “why not on paper” – but here the quilting adds that necessary something to complement and enhance the lines and colours of the print.
K Velis Turan’s “Please Stand By” is screenprinted, and the reverse applique will make some elements pop, which again seems to enhance the design … and wouldn’t work as well in paint or print on paper. The visible quilting is a graphic element in itself (closeup is here) -
Nancy Crow‘s “Double Mexican Wedding Rings IV” (1988-90) could be a zingy print on paper, but this piece is “so quilty” because it comes right out of the quilt tradition – the blocks need to be pieced, not painted … fabrics, not hues, need to be used.
Would you say much the same about this next quilt? Does it need fabric and stitch to bring the design to life, or would it work equally well in paint, print, or collage?
|Alicia Merrett, Blue Harbour|
Quilted sea … that makes sense to me – the sea itself has a visible texture … but when it comes to quilted skies, what do you think – does the quilting evoke the feel of the wind or enhance the look of the clouds? Or are skies best left “just” painted?
Photorealism on fabric is another stumbling block for me – it makes me ask “why?” Perhaps “because I thought it would be interesting” is good enough an answer?
It seems to me that sometimes the use of fabric is either an indulgence, or else a power struggle: the materials need to be vanquished, they need to be bent to the will of the maker.
There’s a further consideration, and I rather hesitate to mention it, but here goes…. What do you think – could it be that some people using fabric because they haven’t developed skills in other media?
I wrote in June about Dorothy Caldwell, the internationally renowned fiber artist, who conducted workshops for my local fiber and textile art group. This time I’d like to focus on her use of the kantha stitch, aka running stitch, the most basic possible of hand stitches, the one we all learned when we first took up a needle in our hand. Dorothy joked that the reason she uses kantha so much in her own work is that she has never learned any more complicated stitches, but I’m not sure I believe her. Nevertheless, it’s a powerful mark-making tool.
She brought several kantha embroideries that had been made by a cooperative of women in northern India with whom Dorothy has worked for several years. They make large pieces to sell in an effort to improve their village, and among other things have been able to build a meeting house in which to work and to clean up a lake that can now be used for fishing.
One of the recurring motifs in the embroideries is a woman’s headdress that seems almost to be blowing away, billowing behind the figure. In fact, it shows a sari that is no longer draped over the woman’s face — as the women in this village used to dress when they were dependent and downtrodden — but is pushed back in freedom.
One or two of the women are in charge of drawing the cartoon onto the blank fabric, after which many women might work on the same piece. Popular compositions might be repeated many times but in different color schemes. Here’s a large scene that was executed twice, once in white on black and the other in black on white.
We didn’t have time in the two-day workshop to make any such elaborate embroideries, but we did spend enough time with the kantha stitch to see how it can be deployed in many different patterns and rhythms.
Here are my two kantha samplers, still in progress. I’ll definitely keep working with this stitch and learn more about how it works.
Some time ago I posted about an art filled trip I’d taken to Wisconsin. This post was meant to follow shortly thereafter, but life intervened. Finally, we move on to the Milwaukee museum of art. I had limited time, so I quickly determined to see only the modern art (which is what I am most interested in). One room was closed, which was a disappointment, but that allowed me to spend more time with each piece that intrigued me.
L Carroll Grey Sleeping Painting 2010-12
I was taken by this rough mixed media piece by Lawrence Carroll, an artist I’d never seen before: https://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Carroll Of course, the stitching drew me in! This piece is made of wax and canvas on wood.
There was a room of O’Keeffes, but I found none very interesting except for this small still life. The vegetables seem to me to have her particular sensuality, and I like how they are clearly situated in the white bowl? on the white cloth? which is narrowly delineated at the top of the painting.
S. LeWitt Wall Drawing #88
This piece by Sol LeWitt was drawn on an entire wall of the museum in pencil.
The work was conceived by de Witt specifically for the Milwaukee Museum of Art, but not executed by him. He gave instructions (above) that 6″ grids should be drawn to cover the wall and that freehand lines (looking very much like quilting!) should be drawn inside each square. He further instructed that the inside of the wall have blue and yellow lines, but this was not done. He clearly believed that “the hand of the artist” was not essential, only the idea. However, I wonder what the work would have looked like if he himself had drawn all the lines.
J. Mitchell Untitled 1969
I spent most of my time with the abstract expressionists (no surprise here!). I like the movement around the dark clotted enter of this piece by Joan Mitchell. I also like the texture of the thick paint.
Rothko Green Red Blue 1955
This is not one of the best Rothkos, but his work is always worth looking at to my mind.
H Hoffman Dew and Dusk 1957
Hans Hoffman was the teacher of the early abstract expressionists and a master of color. His work is so exuberant I couldn’t help smiling the entire time I was looking at it. The multiple colors are so saturated that there is no hint of the “rainbow” effect.
R Diebenkorn OCEAN PARK #88 1974
The Diebenkorn was too large for me to get a full shot of, and again, it’s not his best work, but still quite lovely melting soft soothing sea colors kept from being too sweet by some dark and sharp lines of color containing them. I love the blurred edges as well.
As it turned out, I had 15 minutes extra which I spent just sitting in a big comfy chair, looking out a window at a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. In addition, it is worth a trip to this museum for the building itself designed by Saarinen. It has wings which are opened and closed at specific times of day. www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFQQJIUTv9M
You can get an app for your phone showing different views of the wings opening and closing.
Exhibit of the Week – according to The Week magazine. According to Bob Duggan of BigThink.com “you will never look at an apple the same way again”. He states that still life gave Cezanne the chance to position objects the way he wanted them. He states that Cezanne said “he was going to astonish Paris” and he did. This exhibit is small but quite powerful and is at The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and runs until September 22.
Apples and a Glass of Wine 1877-1879
Madame Hortense Cezanne – Metropolitan Museum of Art NY
Paul was born January 19, 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France and died October 22, 1906 at the age of 67 but in his lifetime he painted watercolors, still life, portraits and self portraits. His impressive works were the Dark Period 1861-1870; Impressionist Period 1870-1878; Mature Period 1878-1890 and Final Period 1890-1805. His most impressive works are: Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen From Bellevue 1885; Apotheose de Delacroix 1890-1894; Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier 1893-1894; The Card Players 1890-1895 and The Bathers 1898-1905. His father was co-founder of a banking firm that prospered through Paul’s life, giving him financial security. He and his mistress had one son – he later married his mistress. When he was 47 his father died and left him the family estate. This estate in now owned by the city of Provence and occasionally is open to the public.
The Card Players (1892-1895) Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Mont Sainte-Victoire (1887) Courtlauld Institute of Art, London
Jas de Bouffan 1885-1887 (estate from father)
He moved to Paris after his schooling where he met Impressionist Camille Pissarro – a friendship form as Master and Disciple with Pissarro exerting a formative influence on Paul’s work. Over the years they formed a collaborative working relationship as equals. His early works were considered heavy with figures in a landscape but later he started working from what he saw in the world around him and his work began to take on a feeling of lightness (airy), but as he matured it is said that his style became more architectural . His comment was: “I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in museums”. His desire was to unite observation of nature with the permanence of classical composition. 1866 was a year experimentation for Paul – he was using a troweling paint to the canvas with a palette knife to create works – announcing that painting didn’t have to trick the eye – that the texture, play of color and gesture were pleasures enough. Matisse and Picasso both called him “the father of us all” (Wall Street Journal 1866).
The Basket of Apples (1890-1894) Art Institute of Chicago
Drapery, Pitcher and Fruit Bowl (1893-1894) Whitney Museum of American Art. NY
The official Salon in Paris rejected many of Paul’s works he was also ridiculed by art critics when exhibited with Impressionists. After his death his paintings were exhibited in Paris in a large museum-like retrospective in September 1907. It is thought that he greatly affected the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took – leading to the fact that he is thought to be one of the most influential artist of the 19th century. He is considered a master by many.
Jas de Bouffan (1876)
Pyramid of Skulls (1901) Today these skulls remain in Paul’s studio. This was in his death period.
Paul’s work and life do intrigue me. There are more painting and information on the web.
I, like Nature, abhor a vacuum, so, even tho’ ’tis not my turn, I am adding a small post here while we catch up with the schedule.
(Image from here)
It all started with a need to listen to something interesting while I was stitching. I turned to a radio programme broadcast last year – about artists’ studios. Great, because I have an insatiable curiosity about where and how artists work. Even better that the presenter/interviewer was an artist herself: a printmaker of whom I had not heard – Susan Aldworth. And there started a marvellous journey of discovery.
An artist fascinated by the idea of self, Aldworth has examined and used scientific and medical imaging and interventions to do with the brain, including her own brain scans. I was particularly mesmerised by the next programme I listened to: an interview with a friend who has epilepsy, and whose portrait she was making. I was intrigued and moved by the sounds of the epileptic brain!
I followed this immediately with a programme about the printmaker Stanley Jones of Curwen Press. The three programmes together gave me a great deal to think about, and it was not until the following week that I returned to see the film about Susan Aldworth’s latest project called Transience. It involves making prints using slices of brain donated by sufferers of Parkinson’s disease – donated with use in making art included in the purposes agreed by the donors. I found the film compelling viewing, and am still thinking about it all.
I would love to know what anyone thinks of the work and the thinking behind it as discussed in this film.