By: Kat Harlton
I recently had the opportunity to explore the Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol exhibit at the Textile Museum in Toronto. An international exhibition, it features more than 200 works on fabric taking visitors on a journey through 20th century history.
Featuring many ‘never before seen’ pieces, I was able to get up close with work by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol among others. It was perhaps the first time I felt a real appreciation for how fashion could be used as a form of expression.
Today’s society often takes for granted our freedom in choosing not only what we wear, but when and where we wear it. This, however, was not always the case, specifically for women who were oppressed in so many ways. Through use of fabric, these artists along with the people who chose to wear their creations were able to make subtle but bold personal statements.
Some of my favorite pieces included Andy Warhol‘s bright and colorful 1955 ‘Happy Bug Day’ textile, as well as Salvador Dali’s 1949 ‘Spring Rain‘ textile from Schiffer. These were artists who saw the opportunity to create unique designs specifically for use on fabrics. Many if not all of the designs did not already exist. These artists had to create new works with careful consideration for how they might relate to a curtain, scarf, or woman’s dress, and how that woman could be perceived when choosing to display it in her home or wear it when she’s out.
These were artists who persistently challenged societal boundaries and through the course of their work, aided the start of a textile movement that would eventually lead to our modern day fashion freedom.
Artist Textiles: From Picasso to Warhol and the accompanying exhibition catalogue were organised by the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, UK. You can find out more about the exhibit here: http://www.textilemuseum.ca/exhibitions/artist-textiles-picasso-to-warhol