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Modern Tapestries

DATES February 07, 1931 through February 28, 1931
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
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  • January 30, 1931 The next exhibition on the Brooklyn Museum schedule will be a collection of fabrics which will comprise an International Exhibition of Modern Tapestries which has been fathered together by Mme. Georges Henri Rivière, Assistant Director of the Toledo Museum of Art. It consists of about one hundred pieces, large and small, in which the work of eleven countries is represented. It is expected to be opened to the public by Saturday February 7th.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 01-03_1931, 013.
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  • February 4, 1931 The exhibition opening to-day, February 7th, and closing on February 28th, on the third floor of the Brooklyn Museum has particular interest in that it demonstrates conclusively that the weaving of tapestries did not by any means die in the 18th Century. Through the iniative and efforts of Mme. Georges Henri Rivière, Assistant Director of the Toledo Museum of Art this remarkable collection of modern tapestries has been gathered together and is having its first exhibition outside of Toledo at the Brooklyn Museum.

    There are over one hundred pieces of varying sizes representing the work of well-known artists in France, England, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Russia, Czechoslovakia and this continent in groups called, The United States, Mexico and North American Indian.

    One of the important French pieces is designed by Jean Lurcat, one of the foremost modern painters in France, whose work is well-represented in collections in the United States. Contrary to the usual method, it is not woven on looms but worked in a tapestry stitch with specially designed needles and executed by the maids in his home. This exhibit is designed in four parts called "Horse at the Spring", three of which were lent by the artist and the fourth by Mr. John Becker of New York. Another important French piece is "La Musique" designed by the great French sculptor, Aristide Maillol. Still another is executed by Germaine Taillefere, composer, one; of the famous "Six", who occupied her leisure in designing and executing two
    beautiful pieces. The piece which was awarded the first prize in the exhibition of Arts and Decoration in Paris in 1925, designed by Mme. Denyse Ie Bec and executed at Aubusson, is included in the exhibition.

    One of the most famous contemporary tapestry makers, Mme. Frieda Hansen of Christiana, Norway, is well represented by "Southward" and "Pond Lilies", both of which were designed and woven by her. She became known as early as 1900 and now her works in this field hang in royal palaces in Norway, England, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Denmark and in three large museums. "Southward" is lent by Mrs. Berthe D. Aske Bergh of The Weavers, New York. This tapestry illustrates a Norse myth of golden-haired daughters of the sun who go sailing southward in diagonals across a geometric sea after having brought flowers and light to the north. It is woven in wool and silver.

    The great father of modern tapestries, William Morris of England, is represented by "The Passing of Venus" designed by Burne-Jones. The first production of this design was woven at the Merton Abbey looms from a cartoon designed over the period of years from 1861 to 1878. The piece was on the loom for several years and the weaving was finished in 1907. The original was shown at the Brussels Exhibition and was burned. At the request of Mr. George D. Booth of Detroit another weaving was made from this cartoon for the Detroit Institute of Arts and was completed in 1926. The new tapestry was woven by a disabled soldier, Percy Sheldrick, whose initials appear in the selvage. The piece lent for this exhibition came through the courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    Many of the Mexican pieces were lent by the Government of Mexico.

    Mme. Rivie're had many interesting experiences in uncovering the work done in this country with the result that she found pieces designed by the late Arthur B. Davies and E. W. Redfield. One of the Redifeld pieces "The Wedding" was executed by him and his family. As a matter of fact, tapestry weaving in this country dates back to the Mexicans and North American Indians, so it is appropriate to have works representing them.

    In many cases it has been difficult to draw the line between tapestry, wall hanging and rug, so the exhibition includes some hangings which might be construed as rugs and some textiles which might be wall hangings. Mme. Rivière was astounded to find that the individual and factory makers of modern tapestries hardly knew of each other's existence, so that this exhibition has unusual importance in that it brings together for the first time a collection of this kind. After the exhibition was first announced it resulted in a flood of information from other sources which had not been tapped due to their obscurity. It is possible that this exhibition will result in a much greater consciousness of tapestry weaving in this country.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 01-03_1931, 017-9.
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