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Textile art
Feminisms and Other Engagements
01.02.2018 | Julie Sabau

Sheila Hicks, Palitos con Bolas, 2008-2015, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Gift by Itaka Martignoni and Cristobal Zañartu in 2017, © Centre Pompidou, 2017 © ADAGP, Paris

Needlework, in other words sewing, embroidering, lacework, tapestry and knitting, are a historical part of the lives of women.” Aline Dallier-Popper, art historian and critic, 1976.

In the late 19th century, needlework distanced itself from the domestic sphere and gradually entered the world of art – first in the Arts and Crafts movement, then in the European avant-gardes. Mainly used by women artists, it would come to inspire much of their artistic output. Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Sonia Delaunay incorporated it into their works, progressively deconstructing the boundaries between applied arts, design and fine arts. Anni Albers and Sheila Hicks then reappropriated traditional techniques and/or materials to weave links between art and handicraft. Thus freed from its utilitarian or decorative function, textile became an artistic medium in its own right.

Its use in art became truly established in the 1970s in response to feminist movements. By repurposing the uses of needlework, artists created works that raised the issue of the status of women and of the roles traditionally assigned to them: Raymonde Arcier (Au nom du père [“In the Name of the Father”], 1977) denounced domestic servitude; Annette Messager (Ma collection de proverbes [“My Collection of Proverbs”], 1974) criticised gender stereotypes. The medium and its techniques became a tool of expression and of feminist awareness. The use of textile by artists is not a movement per se, but a heterogeneous practice: Ghada Amer combines painting and embroidery (Ma lune noire-RFGA [“My Black Moon-RFGA”], 2016); Françoise Janicot creates performances using string (L’Encoconnage [“The Cocooning”], 1972); Milvia Maglione uses fabric as mounting material (Dédicadé à L. [“Dedicated to L.”], 1973). Whether they be an expression of protest (Hessie, Grillage [“Grid”], 1972-75) or of something more personal (Louise Bourgeois, Needle (fuseau), 1992), textile practices are akin to a language with its own codes, which artists have made their own.

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1899 — Germany | 1994 — United States
Anni Albers - AWARE

Anni Albers

1943 | France
Annette Messager - AWARE

Annette Messager

1936 — Cuba | 2017 — France
Hessie - AWARE

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1939 | France
Raymonde Arcier - AWARE

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1934 | United States
Sheila Hicks - AWARE

Sheila Hicks

1889 — 1943 | Switzerland
Sophie Taeuber-Arp - AWARE

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

1911 — France | 2010 — United States
Louise Bourgeois - AWARE

Louise Bourgeois

1963 | Egypt
Ghada Amer - AWARE

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1930 — 2017 | Poland
Magdalena Abakanowicz - AWARE

Magdalena Abakanowicz

1925 — Switzerland | 2015 — France
Eva  Aeppli - AWARE

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1963 | India
Rina  Banerjee - AWARE

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1939 | France
Bernadette Bour - AWARE

Bernadette Bour

1926 — 2018 | Romania
Geta Brătescu - AWARE

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1931 — 2019 | Lebanon
Huguette Caland - AWARE

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1969 | Vietnam
Tiffany Chung - AWARE

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1932 | Colombia
Olga de Amaral - AWARE

Olga de Amaral

1963 | United Kingdom
Tracey Emin - AWARE

Tracey Emin

1942 | United States
Jann Haworth - AWARE

Jann Haworth

1908 — 1958 | Poland
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Maria Jarema

1944 | Australia
Yvonne Koolmatrie - AWARE

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1892 — Poland | 1966 — France
Jeanne Kosnick-Kloss - AWARE

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1958 | Ireland
Kathy Prendergast - AWARE

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1929 | Japan
Takako Saito - AWARE

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1961 | China
Lin Tianmiao - AWARE

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1942 | New Zealand
Maureen Lander - AWARE

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1907 — 2007 | United States
Lenore Tawney - AWARE

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1966 | Zambia
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1940 | Argentina
Delia Cancela - AWARE

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1971 | New Zealand
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1928 — 2010 | Israel
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1897 — Germany | 1983 — Switzerland
Gunta Stölzl - AWARE

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1892 — 1976 | Germany
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1894 — Sweden | 1970 — Norway
Hannah Ryggen - AWARE

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1903 — Poland | 2000 — Germany
Gertrud Arndt - AWARE

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1930 | Croatia (before Yugoslavia)
Jagoda Buić - AWARE

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1926 — 2011 | Spain
Aurèlia Muñoz - AWARE

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1944 | United States
Harmony Hammond - AWARE

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1889 — Iceland | 1966 — Denmark
Júlíana Sveinsdóttir - AWARE

Júlíana Sveinsdóttir

1964 | China
Qing Lu - AWARE

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1834 — 1910 | United States
Harriet Powers - AWARE

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1970 | Brazil
Lídia Lisboa - AWARE

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1964 | Argentina
Nicola Costantino - AWARE

Nicola Costantino

1908 — 2000 | Turkey
Hripsimeh Sarkissian - AWARE

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1960 | Argentina
Mónica Millán - AWARE

Mónica Millán

1897 — 1978 | Mexico
Lola Cueto - AWARE

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1949 — United States | 2004 — Israel
Pamela Levy - AWARE

Pamela Levy

1948 | Brazil
Sonia Gomes - AWARE

Sonia Gomes

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