This summer, the Cité internationale de la tapisserie opened an original exhibition, Premières de cordée, dedicated to tapestries from 1880 – 1950. The presentation explores the origins of the rejuvenation of tapestry weaving in the 20th century, often focusing upon the women who embroidered these pieces, who were frequently overshadowed by the artists who designed them.
At the end of the 19th century, the aesthetic of the medieval tapestry was making a comeback and artists wanted to incorporate historical techniques in their work. However, knowledge of such techniques was rare, and these artists did not have the means to appeal to the state nor to private workshops for help. They turned instead to the women they knew, including their wives, mothers and sisters.
Often considered to be “women’s work”, the pieces on display were typically not sought after by French museums and can be found mainly in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany or in private collections. This exhibition seeks to celebrate the work of artists and the women who helped them, putting these beautiful pieces in the forefront for all to enjoy. It is the first time that an exhibition of this kind has taken place in France, as it features a greater collection of 19th and 20th century French tapestries than any other previous exposition.
At the end of the 19th century, post-impressionist artists and the Nabi movement sought to rejuvenate the art of decorative weaving. Turning away from the influence of painting in the art world, these textile artists looked instead to architects and designers for inspiration. Embroidery only represented a small part of these artists’ work, but it was highly significant and influential at the time. The collaborations between artists and their wives and mothers developed the technique of embroidery to be more conducive to creativity and form an important part of France’s artistic heritage.
Premières de cordée is on at the Cite internationale de la tapisserie, BP 89 – Rue des Arts 23200 Aubusson, France until 23 September 2018.