Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam | ITSLIQUID

Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam

Art | August 30, 2020 |

Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Room view exhibition ‘Extra Large’, chapter The Masters of Modernity, Kunsthal Rotterdam, 2020 © Marco De Swart

Extra Large. Tapestries from Picasso and Le Corbusier to Louise Bourgeois
Kunsthal, Rotterdam
March 28, 2020 – January 03, 2021

For the first time in the Netherlands, Kunsthal Rotterdam is presenting a large-scale retrospective of imposing tapestries based on designs by renowned artists like Picasso, Le Corbusier, Miró, Vasarely and Louise Bourgeois. The exhibition ‘Extra Large’ focuses on a period of a hundred years, with tapestries made directly after the First World War up until now, and reveals a virtually unknown aspect in the bodies of work of many modern and contemporary artists. They have been using the age-old weaving technique as the point of departure for their textile art while constantly reinterpreting it. Most of the sixty works were produced at the historical institute ‘Manufacture des Gobelins’ in Paris. With their combination of artistic finesse and extraordinary craftsmanship, these metres-high, handwoven tapestries are of an unrivalled quality and a joy to behold, and show how surprisingly modern the traditional craft of weaving still is.

Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Le Corbusier (1887-1965) The Woman and the Blacksmith, 1967 © Fondation Le Corbusier, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Isabelle Bideau

In ten chapters, ‘Extra Large’ will show the development of the tapestry. The colourful, figurative and occasionally very abstract works reveal the endless possibilities of the craft. The brightly coloured ‘Une carte du Japon’ – made between 2012 and 2017 after a design by the French artist Alain Séchas – shows how weavers are able to imitate the expressive brushstrokes used in painting. Also surprising are the handcrafted optical illusions of Victor Vasarely and the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. Their often square-shaped tapestries look as if they are three-dimensional and almost appear to be moving. Since the beginning of this century, technical aspects of the digital age also started to make an appearance in the designs. With a computer-manipulated self-portrait, the French artist ORLAN is for instance challenging conventional ideals of beauty. And with extremely enlarged pixels in his work ‘Jardins des Gobelins’, Christophe Cuzin, another French artist, emphasises the similarities between digital imaging techniques and the woven grid structure of the tapestry.

Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Joan Miró (1893–1983) Composition No.1, Woman at the mirror, 1966 © Succession Miró, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Marco De Swart

Intensive manual labour
Already since the beginning of the seventeenth century, the French State has been commissioning renowned artists to design tapestries that are subsequently produced in the national weaving workshops. The designs sometimes convey a sociopolitical message or depict historical revolutions, while other tapestries have a more decorative purpose. Although the old techniques for weaving and knotting have remained unchanged, the often complex designs of the tapestries have resulted in innovating the craft. Picasso’s design ‘Les Femmes à leur toilette’, for instance, remained on the shelf for thirty years until, in 1971, the weavers were finally experienced and confident enough to start working on the particularly detailed tapestry. The realisation of this tapestry took no less than six years. Even now, the completion of a unique tapestry often requires years of intensive manual labour.

Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Alain Séchas (*1955) A Map of Japan, 2012-2017 © Alain Séchas, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Isabelle Bideau

For the exhibition ‘Extra Large’, the Louvre Museum in Paris is taking the tapestry ‘La Globe terrestre’, which is only finished for one third, out of storage for the first time. In 1940, the German painter Werner Peiner was commissioned by the German occupying force to make this 72 m2 design. After the liberation in 1944, the production of the monumental tapestry was abruptly halted. In 1943, the French artist Jean Lurçat had responded with his design for the gold-coloured tapestry ‘Liberté’, expressing the French people’s desire for freedom. This work is also shown at the Kunsthal.

The exhibition was organised in collaboration with ‘Mobilier National’ and ‘Kunsthalle München’ and was inspired by the exhibition ‘Au fil du siècle’ (10 April to 4 November 2018, Galerie des Gobelins in Paris).

more. www.kunsthal.nl

Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Weave test for: Women at their toilette, 1969 | © Succession Picasso, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Françoise Baussan
Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Jean Lurçat (1892–1966) The Seasons. Summer, 1940-1941 © Fondation Lurçat, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Isabelle Bideau
Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Le Corbusier (1887–1965) Canapé II, 1963 © Fondation Le Corbusier, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Isabelle Bideau
Extra Large at Kunsthal Rotterdam
Victor Vasarely (1906–1997) Cheyt Pyr, 1977 © Victor Vasarely, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2019 | ph: Isabelle Bideau

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