|The Birth of the Prince of Peace, Flemish 16th century tapestry|
The information about the upcoming tapestry show is not on the Denver Art Museum's website yet, but it will be soon. The show opens in June and will run for most of a year. It will include these historic tapestries as well as many examples of contemporary tapestry from their collection.
All this discussion of medieval tapestries brought me back to the conversation I had recently with Archie Brennan as I was writing my article for the Spring 2015 issue of Fiber Art Now.** Archie talked both to me and in many talks and articles you can find if you dig a little about how tapestry became a reproductive medium in the middle ages. That means that weavers were trained to copy a painting in thread. This brought tapestry weaving away from the lovely improvisational work we see in the Coptic tapestry fragments to something that was stiffer and less creative from the weaver's perspective. Of course those weavers were and are incredibly skilled. But somewhere in that practice of copying paintings, tapestry lost its ability to be an art medium in its own right. It is my opinion that we need to regain the standing of the work of the artist/weaver as an art form before tapestry can even hope to become recognized as more than a "decorative art" or craft.
And of course I also got to see the chief blanket piece of James Koehler which will be in the tapestry show. I wrote more about that on this blog post:
A Chief Blanket-inspired Tapestry of James Koehler at the Denver Art Museum
|James Koehler, Chief Blanket with Blocks, in the collection of the Denver Art Museum|