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Outstanding Exhibits on the Art of Weaving and Textiles

outstanding museum exhibits on the art of textiles and weaving

In recent weeks, we’ve noticed a boomlet in the number of museum exhibitions around the world highlighting the art of weaving and textiles. Our correspondent Jillian Tangen has curated a list of 5 outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles that are currently underway. Some of them close at the end of October, so get out there and catch them before they’re gone!

weaving and textiles are the subject of major museum exhibits right now

If you’ve been paying close attention to our monthly Arts and Culture Calendar, you may have noticed a small but increasing number of museum exhibitions around the world highlighting the art of weaving and textiles. 

Once looked down upon by the art establishment as a folksy craft or hobby mainly led by women, weaving has recently been the subject of major exhibitions at prestigious museums around the world. 

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Earlier this year, the Met Breuer hosted a retrospective of the Indian artist Mrinalini Mukherjee. Tate Modern featured Bauhaus trained textile artist Anni Albes

On top of that, at last week’s Frieze London there was a dedicated section called “Woven.” At the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair that ran concurrently, there was a section entitled “Thread.” 

In addition to those tight-knit areas of focus on this medium, if you need further proof, look no further than the resurgence of Bottega Veneta’s artfully woven leather bags and shoes. “It” designer Daniel Lee can do no wrong right now, and the euphoric response to his new collection is just another proof point that weaving and textiles are having a moment. Phaidon even recently published a survey of works called Vitamin T: Threads and Textiles in Contemporary Art.

exhibits weaving and textiles

Outstanding exhibits on the exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles. Vitamin T: Threads and Textiles in Contemporary Art

We can’t be entirely sure of all the reasons driving the newfound appreciation for this ancient craft. But we cannot help but feel that one small part might be related to humankind’s natural desire to connect with simpler and more hands-on times.

During this increasingly digital age, where everything is done at the press of a button, there’s a marked rise in knitting, quilting and other DIY crafts.  That’s not to say that these museum exhibitions are from amateurs, or that the works are easily created. It’s just interesting that as a culture, we seem to more deeply appreciate the craftsmanship and work ethic that have gone into creating these woven masterpieces than ever before.

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In the event you missed any one of these shows and fear you may have missed out on the trend entirely, fret not, because the rise of weaving as an appreciated art form has only just begun.  This fall you will find 5 more weaving and textile inspired exhibitions to explore from coast to coast across the US.  Then come spring next year the Tate Modern will host yet another weaving exhibition, this time with work by the textile artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.  Until then, here’s what to check out in the world of weaving this year:

Five Outstanding Current Exhibits on the Art of Weaving and Textiles

1. Anni Albers at the David Zwirner Gallery, New York City

Following a widely acclaimed 2018 – 2019 retrospective at London’s Tate Modern earlier this year, Anni Albers at the David Zwirner Gallery gives American audiences a rare chance to experience the breadth of Albers’s decades long career, including her pioneering wall hangings, weavings, public commissions and a range of her innovative and colorful works on paper.

On view for the first time outside of Mexico, is Albers’s 10 foot tall wall hanging Camino Real, 1968. Commissioned by Ricardo Legorreta and Luis Barragán for the newly built Hotel Camino Real in Mexico City, this vibrant work brings together a number of important facets of Albers’s practice, in particular the profound impact of Latin American art and culture on the artist’s oeuvre – though Oct 19

exhibits weaving and textiles

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles: Anni Albers at the David Zwirner Gallery

2. Weaving beyond the Bauhaus at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit Weaving Beyond the Bauhaus features 50 works that trace Bauhaus’s influence on textile art stretching across the Atlantic – including in Chicago – and spanning the 20th century, with works by artists such as Anni Albers, Else Regensteiner and Sheila Hicks. 

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The pieces on view offer a rich picture of tapestry and textile production from the 1920s to the 1990s that demonstrate the ongoing spirit of experimentation, with materials from natural fibres like jute and cotton to synthetic fibres like rayon, with objects like embroidery hoops and rubber bands to varying techniques including weaving both on and off the loom, knotting and embroidery – through Feb 17, 2020

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles: Sheila Hicks, Produced by V’SOSKE. Rug, about 1965. On view at Weaving beyond the Bauhaus at the Art Institute of Chicago.

3. Taking Thread for a Walk at MoMa, New York City

True to its title, Taking Thread for a Walk at the soon to be reopened MoMa will walk visitors through ancient textile traditions through to early 20th century design reform movements and industrial materials and production methods all while exploring the craft’s emergence as a recognized creative discipline. 

Featuring adventurous combinations of natural and synthetic fibers and spatially dynamic pieces that mark the emergence of more a sculptural approach to textile art beginning in the 1960s, the exhibition hopes to highlight the fluid expressivity of weaving and textiles as an artistic medium – Oct 21 – Spring 2020

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles: Taking Thread for a Walk at MoMA.

4. When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

While not a completely weaving or textile focused exhibition, the Institute of Contemporary Art’s When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art leans heavily on a number of installations featuring the medium.   In one installation French artist Kader Attia uses vibrant blue textiles to remind viewers of migrants and refugees who have died at sea.

In another, Reena Saini Kallat’s Woven Chronicle explores migratory paths and lines of movement that are fundamentally difficult and politically charged over a large scale woven map of the earth – Oct 23 – Jan 26, 2020

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles: When Home Won’t Let you Stay in Boston.

5. With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

MoCA’s With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art is another exhibition that while not wholly focused on weaving and tapestries, wholeheartedly embraces them as the first full scale scholarly North American survey of the groundbreaking Pattern and Decoration art movement. 

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles: the Museum Of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.

With Pleasure examines the P&D movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental or craft based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art including quilts, wallpaper, Persian carpets, tapestries and embroidery – Oct 27 – May 11, 2020

Outstanding exhibits on the art of weaving and textiles: With Pleasure Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Exhibits on the Art of Weaving and Textiles

So will we see you at any of these shows this fall?  You’ll find us at the MoMa, quite possibly with a Bottega Veneta bag in tow.

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Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.

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