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.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET

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.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
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.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
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.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET

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.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
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.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
Patolu with elephant design

The Butterflies and moths made me think of silk and transformation. The moths dance and dot many of the visual landscapes sown richly in the exhibit. Many of these works were cultural carriers of ideas about design and were infesting the owners and transforming the aesthetic eye of the viewer in one country from a boated cargo of linens. Tightly detailed 1000 thread per inch craftsmanship reveals mesmerizing wondered delights.

It is more than an exotic Zoo show and reveals our concerns for animals, food, material for clothing, the woods, valued wild life, and symbols of larger themes like strength and virility.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
Detail,Palampore 18th Century Cotton, paint, dye

One work even pairs the animals hinting at marital bliss. However, I think I spied a threesome in a grouping on the lower left with sheep like animals, there's a partier in every crowd. There's the Shepard with the sheep thing, a good-sized flock for the pre-silvered screen. Score one for religion, wonder if he ate Shepard's Pie, whole cycle of life thing like my goat cheese mold brewers in VT.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
Painted and dyed wall hanging Indian, for European market ca. 1740s-1750s cotton, dye, paint

There is one other Monkey that showed up prominently, sometimes on horse mount. At times he was stacked and packed tightly in war fair couture of the day, ready for battle or recording the human cost of the day. Stories of winners our historians know not for sure. These historic riddled dyed cotton reads have yet to be unwoven. Hieroglyphics and comic space cutting come to mind as several works in the show use cell like formatting to section of the work to populate with action, events and things for us to read. Just peak at this small detail from above of monkey men with bows and arrows and war-not-so-fair play wear and try and read the story.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET
Shawl (Rebozo) Mexican late 18th century silk, dye and Egyptian Hieroglyphs in the Louvre

These objects are legacies of their past, of our past and our views of the world, or how we embrace it, own it, use it, abuse it and what we care for. It is a time capsule to the past of how and what they felt strongly about. What will be our trail, plastic, pipes, pizza, no more Pieta's made these days.

BWW Reviews: More than Schmattas: Textiles and Art, Where's the Line? Interwoven Globe at the MET

Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, Siegen 1577-1640 Antwerp Drawing Portrait of Nicolas Trigault in Chinese Costume Flemish 1617 and a little man stenciled in the street near the Guggenheim

Rubens even makes his way in. It is not a work from his production house buffeting so many Koon's questions, but from his own hand in all it's glory showing his skill in recreating folds and the feel for fabric as Durer does.

Okay, so sometimes robes were only for the noble birthed to wear, or gifts to corporate executives big into East Indian Tea, that definitely were not considered income for any year. At times not shining so proudly in our past dust, linen was bartered for human life. It was currency in the slave trade and more. The bed was the most expensive part of the home and was a symbol of wealth because of the linens and covers.

I was looking for the confluence of fine art with textiles. Though some paintings were mixed in I did not see the link I was looking for. I did find art in the textiles, a fine and high art at the top of some riddled ladder by recent critics. A Vermeer would have been nice. Other thoughts came to mind. What did the common man wear back in the day, where are my Breugel's farmers short and pants. Today many Contemporary artists are working in stitching, embroidery, sewing, knitting and more. It has a rich heritage for these bright young minds to unpack.

What do I get outta this show? So much. I'm going back for several visits. I see what man and woman are capable of at their best as craftsman, as artisans, and as artists and that the line is thin threaded between the three. One thing that strikes my bells is that the historians don't know for sure what the story is behind some of these brilliant works; go figure most of us can't remember what we did 8 days ago or ate yesterday. The exoticism, outlandishment and embellishment scores one for the Baroque and disses the clean contemporary feel of today's scene.


More From This Author

Barry Kostrinsky Barry Kostrinsky is the founder of Havensbx and Haven Arts. Gallery and performance spaces that reinvigorated the South Bronx arts scene from 2004-2017. The Municipal Arts Society (MAS) awarded Haven Arts a certificate of merit in 2006.

Barry has contributed to a variety of panels including a NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Percent for art program, and a Bronx Museum symposium for the Artist in the Artists in Marketplace (AIM) program. Barry formed and moderated talks for the Artists Talk on Art(ATOA) Series at The School of Visual Arts (SVA) and the National Arts Club that discussed the history of the Bronx arts scene and contemporary ceramics. Recently he joined the board of ATOA

Barry served as a member of the Arts in Public Places (AIPP) committee for Rockland County in the past and now sits on the board of "Human Connections Art"

His past experiences managing a family run manufacturing company in the South Bronx for 20+ years gives him a uniquely balanced view of the art world.

He worked in finance and banking from 2010-2013 for a small independent company and then for Bank of America. As a result he sees the art world from both the aesthetic side and the financial market it is.

As an artist Barry has exhibited in group shows in NYC. He works in a variety of medium including oil paints, ceramics, acrylics, watercolor, photography and mixed medium. Whereas the oil paintings are mostly plein-air works not unlike the impressionists and post-impressionist, his acrylic work is quite contemporary and often on found objects including car parts, light bulbs, beds and more. His photographic work ranges from serene nature shots, to street detritus and social commentary using his simple I-Phone and old Polaroid small format cameras. In ceramics Barry makes modern day minkisi-power figures and has helped developed Bruce Sherman's ceramic career while managing his studio from 2014-2016

Barry special ability is to be able to see others artists work from the eyes of an artist and to dialogue with artists in a meaningful way about their art and where they are going.

As a youth Barry was a math major at Vassar College and graduated in 1982. His High School days at New Rochelle High enabled him to develop his artistic talents, Mr. Blackburn was an inspiring teacher. He spent the summer before senior year at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and had a firm footing in the arts before college. By chance Vassar had one of the best art history departments in the US and he studied with Linda Nochlin, Susan Kuretsky and in his rookie year, Ken Silver.

He is a proud father of three grown kids ages 29,29 (twins is the way to start) and 24.

Like so many today he is divorced.

Barry has a strong passion for all things arts related and his love for cooking and eating run a close second.