ARTIST TEXTILES: PICASSO TO WARHOL - PART 2

Following my post ARTIST TEXTILES: PICASSO TO WARHOL - PART 1, PART 2 transports us into the fashion world with a cornucopia of patterns from (of course) Picasso and Warhol, alongside a host of other important designers from the twentieth century.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Andy Warhol, the epitome of Pop Art. Some of his textile designs are only now coming to light. The collection shown as part of this exhibition include food-related ‘Pop’ textiles for his friend Stephen Bruce, proprietor of legendary New York restaurant, Serendipity 3.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Starting with these ‘ice cream’ patterns from Andy Warhol, the colours here are whimsical yet vibrant. That punch of purple is delicious and the lime green against the orange makes the whole combo ‘pop’.

The sketches seem so simple, naive, yet the placement of each design and the consideration of negative space is what connotes a true master at work.

In some of the patterns, the motifs are temptingly only part in colour, and this sketchy style is what makes them so wonderful and accomplished. (Know the rules, break the rules.)

The silky lustre of the fabric makes them even more sumptuous.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes

John Rombola, screen-printed cotton in ‘Circus’, 1956

John Rombola, screen-printed cotton in ‘Circus’, 1956

The lure of the circus will never fade, and again this wonderful sketchy style just adds to the whimsy of the design and I can imagine, the mood of the wearer if this were a dress or a other item of clothing.

So much of what we wear is a uniform or an essential or just a ‘cover-up’ to keep us from the cold, so ‘fashion’ in the true sense of the word should be clothing that perhaps is not essential wear but that makes us feel good about ourselves, fun, motivated, and crucially, helps us express our unique style to the people around us.

Often I feel like wearing a dungaree dress with my favourite t-shirt and trainers and not doing my hair. Other days I love taking time to put on make-up and something a bit more special. Fashion comes and goes as our own moods do the same.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I love seeing words and phrases scrawled over images, forming part of the design, especially the French words!

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
‘Shift’ dress made from Picasso’s textile ‘Frontispiece’, screen-printed cotton c1964-5

‘Shift’ dress made from Picasso’s textile ‘Frontispiece’, screen-printed cotton c1964-5

The numbers are also a pretty cool addition, looking genuinely like workings-out or old coffee sacks, the simple shift shape complementing and counteracting the busy surface decoration. I could see myself wearing this because it also has a rebellious edge to it, like something a member of the resistance might wear because a red beret is just too obvious.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Picasso was the most dominant and influential artist of the first half of the twentieth century. Associated mostly with pioneering art movements such as Cubism, he also invented collage and made major contributions to Symbolism and Surrealism. His behaviour has come to embody that of the bohemian modern artist in the popular imagination.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I always want to attribute Matisse with the ‘invention’ of collage, if indeed that’s what you could call it, so finding out it was actually Picasso, is a bit mind-blowing. He truly was a master of his craft, moving and morphing (and inventing) so many different art phases, like a butterfly.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

In the 1960’s, Pablo Picasso collaborated with two American textile manufacturers (Bloomcraft and White Stag), seeing his designs adapted and produced on fabrics as diverse as corduroy ponchos to PVC-coated rainwear. Both companies invested heavily in modern marketing techniques and the collaborations were a huge commercial success. The designs sold from between $9 and $30 apiece, with fabric at only $5 a yard.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I appreciate the simple repeats as much as the more intricate designs, sometimes more so, especially when it comes to these fun button and butterfly repeats in typical ‘vintage’ palettes.

Buttons conjure a certain nostalgia for me - Nana’s button box, my mother re-sewing buttons onto my winter coat for school, or even modern-day crafting with vintage and second-hand buttons. They are so unique in their colours and shapes, their texture and their transparency.

I love finding buttons in charity shops though I have far too many of my own now at home. Who wouldn’t want to use a button-print textile in their home or fashion designs?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Collage-style and dolly-mixture prints never go out of fashion for me, from Matisse to modern interpretations. The more colours the merrier, though of course, monochrome never goes amiss.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Graham Sutherland, ‘Rose’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Graham Sutherland, ‘Rose’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Graham Sutherland, ‘Snowdrop’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Graham Sutherland, ‘Snowdrop’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Hammer Prints Ltd

Hammer Prints Ltd

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The detailed line-work is fantastical here and takes me on a dizzying trip to another place and time.

I love the use of the architectural details of the train station, trains coming in and out, the archways, and the cornicing and curliques somewhere between art deco and art nouveau - and how that translates into the tailoring on the dress.

These drawings are so rich and I think of the artist scribbling away at a blank canvas, how their life might have been and their inspirations. Freer in some senses but perhaps not in others?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Eduardo Paolozzi & Nigel Henderson, ‘Portobello’, London, c1958

Eduardo Paolozzi & Nigel Henderson, ‘Portobello’, London, c1958

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
The rich etching of fruit and leaves. I’m guessing this could be William Morris?

The rich etching of fruit and leaves. I’m guessing this could be William Morris?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The doorways here have so much energy and must surely have been inspired by the Mediterranean, as the colours evoke such warmth and delight. The brushstrokes are masterful - seemingly rough and almost abstract, yet the details are depicted in a finer hand, the light playing against the shadows.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The colours and pattern here are so modern yet vintage - the sign of a true classic, timeless design.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Working through these images again reveals another layer of richness and awe, as well as renewed inspiration for my own work from these masters of the last century. I’m so glad their work is preserved here and in the textiles they created.

How wonderful would it be to discover one of these original pieces of textile or a dress, featuring the handiwork of Picasso or Warhol, in a vintage treasure trove somewhere? I can dream…

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

NB. I’ve credited the artists where possible, but as I saw this exhibition a year ago, some of the details that I would have had fresh in my mind, have gone. Apologies! I remember I’d wanted to purchase the book that was produced in conjunction with this exhibition, however it was sold out at the time and I think is perhaps no longer in print . If you recognise any of the works, please let me know and I will add the credits.

Thank you!

Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol - Part 1

I visited this exhibition ARTIST TEXTILES: PICASSO to WARHOL at the wonderfully picturesque and historic New Lanark Visitor Centre OVER A YEAR AGO.

Planning to share the delights at the time, it seems that life happened and I didn’t manage it. Having recently stumbled upon the trove of images I took as I wandered round the carefully curated space, I realised the time to share them is NOW.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Tracing the history of 20th century ART in TEXTILES, the exhibition features a host of feted designers across key art movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art.

With any exhibition like this featuring designs from the past, there is no real ‘expiry’ date to the inspiration and wonder. It first ran at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London circa 2014, but has been on tour ever since, only finishing next week (6th May) at the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai.

“I’ve spent my life ministering to the swinish luxury of the rich.”

William Morris, Textiles Designer, 1876

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The florals here are timeless and have a collaged vibe. The colour palette is refined, beautiful and graceful, bringing to mind afternoon tea in a stately home.

Quickly we move on to geometrics and Russian aeroplanes, the latter roller-printed on cotton circa 1920’s. I love their simple, fun form and can imagine dressing my little boy in an outfit featuring such a delightful print.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Gerald Wilde, screen-printed silk fashion textile, 1944

Gerald Wilde, screen-printed silk fashion textile, 1944

“After the second world war, artists methods and the subjects they portrayed began to embrace the dynamism of contemporary life. They focused not on representational images, but on pattern, colour and abstraction. This new style translated perfectly into textile design.”

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The art itself is telling a story, whether in block-print repeat or through the stark yet abundant landscapes that make a dramatic statement through their imaginative use of colour. I love the whispering women below, ‘Gossips’ by Textile Designer Virginia Lee Burton with their huge bustled skirts. Are they friend or foe? I would LOVE a skirt or dress in that print! (It was also available as a gorgeous deep green.)

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Moving on to the bright-brights, I lingered around these Surrealist silk headscarves by Salvador Dali, none of which would look out of place AT ALL in a boutique anywhere in the world RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I admire his bold use of colour and almost naive rendering of the abstract shapes. I don’t think he would mind me saying that. He always appeared so friendly with his tapered moustache and mischievous eyes…

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Am I right in thinking these are telephones hanging on a wall in an underwater cave, or a train tunnel, or simply floating in a swimming pool?

It’s like taking a trip each time you look at these as the multiple layers of meaning in the art reveal themselves as though in a mass Rorschach experiment. I remember circling back a few times to stare into them as though I was furiously churning the end of a kaleidoscope.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

“Surrealism aimed to revolutionise human experience, rejecting a rational vision of life in favour of one that asserted the value of the unconscious and dreams, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary.”

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Sticking with the brights this angelic/cherub, parcels of florals, a woman with carrots and onions in her hair and a quartet of female-clown faces.

Maybe I’m being too literal and I sound perhaps like these pieces weren’t/aren’t to my taste, but quite the contrary. I love the energy in the lines and the distinctive style that flows through the artist’s hand (Marcel Vertes).

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Faces are a perennial attraction in design - mostly female faces. The image below is not a good photograph, but I love this Picasso print with the dove at the centre in primary colours with the text around the outside. It’s like the four faces of the world, designed clearly for the ‘Festival Mundial’ in Berlin, 1951.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The array of prints was dizzying with far too many to describe or include here, but taken together these had my synapses firing and inspire(d) me to work harder on my own art and surface pattern design.

There is nothing better to ‘fill your creative bucket’ than an exhibition like this featuring some of the best designers of the last century, plus.

I haven’t even started on the fashion part yet or the Warhol prints.

I’m saving those for Part 2 :)

Angelo Testa, screen-printed cotton wall-hanging, 1947

Angelo Testa, screen-printed cotton wall-hanging, 1947

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I’m going to finish Part 1 with this - ‘A Fish is a Fish is Fish’ by Ken Scott.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

As a Piscean, I’m always inspired by and interested in fish prints and the sea. Curiously, there were a few different hen prints too. Quite interesting how they could easily be imagined on upholstery or even fashion, particularly the smaller, non-directional ditzy print?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Part 2 of this exhibition post coming next week.

Cocka-doodle-doo (like no revered artist of the 20th century would ever say…)

NB. I’ve credited the artists where possible, but as I saw this exhibition a year ago, some of the details that I would have had fresh in my mind, have gone. Apologies! I remember I’d wanted to purchase the book that was produced in conjunction with this exhibition, however it was sold out at the time and I think is perhaps no longer in print - unless they have it in Shanghai?

LISTEN to this post in a Male US/Scottish Accent: