BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the line?
Interwoven Globe at the MET: The worldwide Textile trade 1500-1800
By Barry Kostrinsky
Interwoven Globe: The worldwide Textile trade 1500-1800 opens September 16th and runs through January 5th 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is a story of hidden treasures speaking to one another on a cross-cultural global connection told through design and traveled by boat.
The abduction of Helen. From a set of the story of Troy. China for the Portuguese market, 17th Century, cotton embroidered with silk and gilt-paper-wrapped thread, pigments and a Coverlet Embroidered (Colcha) Mexican 1786 Cotton embroidered with silk.
Base-cemented for years within the METS vaults, now resuscitated, alive in nine galleries you can even see what Louis XVI commissioned but never got to; he lost his head too soon. About a third of the show comes from key loans and add to this intriguing smattering of all things textiles circa 16_19 C including dresses, quilts, tapestries, Warrior wear, waste coats, covers for bed and chair, coifs, copes, capes, curtains, carpet, coverlets, chintz, chasuble, settees, shawls, sashes, surcoats, a man's morning gown, robes priestly and mundane, a bizarre alter hanging, petticoat fragments (breathe in better girls), banyans, panels, ceremonial hanging pieces a sampler and a salt cellar with some oil on canvas to boot and a Reuben no sauerkraut nor mustard.
Dress Italian 1725-40 linen Palampore Indian, for European market 1690-1720 cotton, linen
Countries and Empires covered include China and Japan, France and Great Britain, Italy, India, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Peru, Islam, Russia, Poland, Turkey. Some surprise bed partners. I hope they packed limes for the float into distant ports.
Amelia Peck the bright headed chief of the curator clan on this broad scoped show mixing many departments of the hallowed home of art and objects, explained how since those roaring days almost a centennial ago the MET has been endowed with a great wealth of objects from various cultures dealing in textiles. Unfortunately they have been mostly unhung, dead in a basement for 50-75 years. Indeed three to four times the amount of the work in the show could have been exhibited but even a great space dictates the limitations.
Carpet Islamic 17th century Silk (warp, weft, and pile), metal wrapped thread; asymmetrically knotted pile, brocaded and Robe Netherlands 1720-40 cotton, linen
The importance of trade and transportation as it impacted design is at the core of the show and represented in the boats of Armadas passed, docked large at the exhibit entrance in the Tisch galleries on the second floor. Ships set sail from Portuguese ports to kick of this textile romp through the vaults of the METS (no Yankees). There is a detailed trail of fabric and lace, influence and confluence and sampled copies from countries with taste preference that makes the international style presented in this exhibit quite bizarre as cultures blend and collide. The material trail is complicated and a simple tune is China for Embroidery and India for dying and painting. Adjacent art works are curated at the highest level in a very good way and indeed the trail is not easy to see without a read or the help of a guide: an intellectual walking stick of sorts. Red is strong as a base or highlight color through out as are the natural pale tones. At times I felt folk formalized made for the market high-end items were as beautiful as artwork can get. The trail of the cross-cultural pollination of ideas about design preferences travels many waterways. I get seasick quick and though not a zoo fan I did go a zoo hunting with imagery bows in quiver.
details quilt and Coverlet Chinese, for the European market 17th century Silk satin, embroidered with silk and gilt-paper-wrapped thread
Oddly enough I found myself cataloguing a list of the animals presented in all the art works. This could be the ultimate family Frisbee zoo at the MET. Just a list of the variety is enlightening and makes for a fun where's Waldo the wart hog journey. I came across various birds including eagles sometimes gone two headed en homage to Hapsburgian folk perhaps, a rooster ready for a fight, parrots, what looks like an egret on steroids and a peacock to name a few.
Chinese, Macao for export to Iberian market second half 16th century
Big game prowled heavy in Lions and Jaguar adorning great fantasmagorical, exotic blends of creatured and vined decorative designs. Well antlered deer, elephants, monkeys, camels and the bad bunny from Pythons "Holy Grail" were in the normal creatures section. At times the artist blended animals or worked with Harry's buddy Hagrid's barned pets conjuring up dragons, centaurs and trippy butterflies.