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.
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.
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.
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.
I love seeing words and phrases scrawled over images, forming part of the design, especially the French words!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
The colours and pattern here are so modern yet vintage - the sign of a true classic, timeless design.
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…
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.