21 October 2010

Drawing with fabric, painting with thread

Louise Bourgeois' "fabric drawings" are on show in London till 18 December. "A life-long hoarder of clothes and household items such as tablecloths, napkins and bed linen, from the mid-nineties Bourgeois cut up and re-stitched these, transforming her lived materials into art. Through sewing she attempted to effect psychological repair: ‘I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned. The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole’."

This article
, which has pictures of her textile books says: "While she spent much of her career as a sculpture, working in bronze, marble, resin, wood, and latex; in her later years, she turned to textile art, producing two and three dimensional stitched and embroidered works in fabric. For an artist whose primary sources of inspiration were childhood memories, this return to textile art seems fitting, since she spent much of her time as a young girl working along side her mother in the family’s tapestry restoration business."

It has a link to an article in the New York Times, which answers my question: did Louise do the sewing herself: "She cut, pinned or basted the pieces, which were then sewn into the final work by Mercedes Katz, a seamstress who has long worked with the artist." One of the books is being produced in an edition of 25 - not without a few problems...

In the exhibition, the cumulative effect of the framed "drawings" is wonderful. Also, knowking that they're made of a lifelong collection of clothes and household linens, you see the importance of keeping (or disregarding) the signs of age in the textiles that were used.

Ghada Amer is a New York painter who uses embroidery thread. This is from a review of her recent exhibition:
"Though Amer's trademark material is brightly-colored embroidery thread, she primarily considers herself a painter. Her use of embroidery as paint intentionally confronts the traditional, male-dominated terrain of the medium and its academic equivalent in art history. Widely associated with femininity and domesticity (darning, sewing, needlepoint), the act of stitching is redefined by Amer's less tidy compositions. She often leaves excess threads and knots dangling; this additional layer of "mark-making" abstracts and obscures underlying imagery. Her technique also gives an organic, fluid sensibility to the meticulousness of the embroidery process. Amer reclaims lost territory: the skeins of thread accompanying her embroidered lines echo the drips and gestural brushwork of the Abstract Expressionists, and insists on an intimate reading of her work."

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