Textile art What is Textile Art

What is Textile Art

in Blog, Taftique

What is Textile or Fiber art: historical notes, development and main techniques

Fiber Art is a kind of artistic textile movement that developed at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Its artists use textile fibers, cloth and yarn, connecting them in various ways, using multiple tecniques. Different from a traditional form of textile art such as tapestry, it isn't exclusively based on the intertwining or weaving of yarn in warp and weft. The materials used aren't necessarily only textile materials. They span from all kinds of yarns to pieces of cloth, to lace, elastics, plastic nets, metal pieces, rubber tubes and artifical grass. In short, on the level of creativity, Fiber Art is second to none.

The history of Fiber Art: from the early twentieth century to current forms

The first manifestations of Fiber art date back to the beginning of the twentieth century.  From the 1920s it was the Bauhaus movement that began experimenting with fibers and materials such as metal, cellophane, artificial silk and chenille. Despite these first "signs", however, it was necessary to wait another three decades before Fiber Art was able to develop as a proper art movement. From the USA, fiber art first arrived in Japan, then in Canada and the Old Continent. During the 60s and 70s there was a creative boom in the current, using techniques such as knotting, twisting, intertwining, wrapping, pleating of textile fibers. The Lausanne Biennials, between 1962 and 1995, welcomed textile works of art with pleasure, starting from tapestry up to advanced installations characterized by the presence of flexible materials.

Over time, various Biennials dedicated to Fiber Art have arisen in different parts of the world. China, for example, at the end of the 2000s took over the rights of the Lausanne Biennial, and in 2010 organized the 6th Biennial "From Lausanne to Beijing". Today, annual international exhibitions are dedicated to this form of art; in Italy, for example, specialized exhibitions have been organized in Como, Chieri and Pordenone.

Fiber Art techniques

Examining the techniques used in Fiber Art, the components used are aggregated without resorting to elements such as adhesives, joints or welds. To keep them together are, in fact, knots or intertwining. By doing so, these components form a fabric (it could be a braid, a net, a tangle or a flap). Painting and printing on fabric are also part of the techniques of Fiber Art. In the latter case the protagonists are molds made with the most disparate materials, such as rubber bands, leaves, lace (in the role of matrices), toothpicks and herbs. As for the seams, these are done both by hand and by machine. Also tufting and punch-needle are techniques applied within Fiber Art, as they comprise yarn or cloth bindings upon a basic canvas.

Over the decades, the possibilities offered by different materials have been explored both in the States and in Europe. We witnessed the appearance of hanging or free works, flat or volumetric, in two or three dimensions. And a notable contribution to the development of this contemporary art form has come from women. The classic association of the female universe with fabrics, typical of the domestic sphere, has provided a considerable impulse to movement. It is therefore not surprising that some of the most important artists in this field are female.

It is important to note how each artist manages to differentiate himself by adopting an extremely personal style of expression. This is why it is possible to observe assemblages of materials on layers subject to sewing, installations and materials such as metal threads, newspapers reduced to strips, embroidery (on paper or evanescent film). Thanks to its particular characteristics, Fiber art has found ample space in the so-called home decor, managing to perfectly respond to the needs of an audience with refined tastes.


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