The Recollection Pond.Tapestry by Romare Bearden, a native of Charlotte. His collage work translates beautifully into tapestries

Now showing at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, in Charlotte, NC from April 5-December1, 2019.

A fascinating exhibition, showing some of the Big Boys of Art in the 20th century. From Europe-Picasso, Chagal, Le Corbousier , Joan Miro  and others. From America, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Motherwell,  and others. Most of the Modern masters were collected around the mid-20th century. Here are some of my highlights from the collection….

The die is cast. Tapestry by Corbusier

Normally I’m not a fan of Le Corbusier’s art work yet it seemed to me his artwork is a perfect fit for a tapestry construction.  I loved the vast areas of flat solid color broken up by the contrasting outlines of figures and forms. As for Victor Vasarely’s tapestry, I don’t think I have ever seen such a 3-dimensional form on a flat surface.

Vega Zett. Tapestry by Victor Vasarely

In general,  tapestries from this era were not woven by the artists themselves but were woven by tapestry weavers- either individuals or a team of tapestry weavers.

In this exhibit, all of the mid-century European tapestries were woven in the traditional tapestry construction- an intermittent weft woven in plain weave.

Not so for all the American tapestries. Some of the American tapestries were woven with a pile construction – which technically, could be called a carpet, although a tufted structure has an intermittent weft as required in the definition of a traditional tapestry. The weft in this case is not plain weave, but individual tufts of yarns to form the pile. Roy Lichtenstein’s was the most striking example.  Rober Motherwell, Frank Stella and Davis were other examples of pile fabrics.

Tapestry with pile by Roy Lichtenstein



Radient Passage. Cotton Jacquard tapestry by April Gornick (2017)

There was a contemporary section (starting from 2006)  where I was so happy to see some tapestries by women. At last!

Detail of Radient Passage by April Gornick showing different weaves

Interestingly enough, a lot of the tapestries were Jacquard tapestries-meaning that they were woven on an industrial Jacquard loom.  They are computer generated designs by the artists, are woven on very sophisticated machines.  A traditional tapestry usually features plain weave-  a Jacquard tapestry can incorporate many, many weaves as part of the design. Jacquard tapestries can be reproduced multiple times.

Detail from Fred Tomaselli’s tapestry

After migrant fruit thugs. Tapestry by Fred Tomaselli

Fred Tomaselli’s tapestry is described as “silk birds with metallic threads on wool background” It is an amazing tapestry with incredible detail and colors. I ‘ve seen his work years ago, where he made a hyper realistic collage ( again of highly detailed birds)  with different colored drugs/pills.

Detail from Kiki Smith’s Jacquard tapestry Parliament

Parliament.Jacquard tapestry by Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith has an ethereal tapestry called Parliament from 2017, with subtle color and weaves.

Forest Noise. Tapestry by Ian Woo

Last but not least-I found another lovely tapestry by Ian Woo, in the Mint Museum Uptown which sits beside the Betchler Museum of Modern Art!

Detail of Forest noise tapestry by Ian Woo

As my father would have said-“It’s a cracker!”