‘Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art” at The Met Fifth Avenue

 

 

 

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view March 5 – June 16, 2024. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art., photo by Hyla Skopitz.
 

The process of creating textiles has long been a springboard for artistic invention. In Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art, two extraordinary bodies of work separated by at least 500 years are brought together to explore the striking connections between artists of the ancient Andes and those of the 20th century. The exhibition, which will open at The Met on March 5, 2024, will feature textiles by four distinguished modern practitioners—Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, and Olga de Amaral—alongside pieces by Andean artists from the first millennium BCE to the 16th century, who, though their names are largely unknown to us, created works of exceptional technical and formal refinement.

The exhibition is made possible by The Modern Circle. 

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view March 5 – June 16, 2024. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art., photo by Hyla Skopitz.

This cross-historical exhibition offers new insights into the emergence of abstract imagery. The constructive nature of weavings, arising from the grid formed by crossing the warp and the weft (the vertical and horizontal elements of the loom), prompted the formal investigation of a geometric iconography that emphasizes the integral relationship between structure and design in textiles, forging distinctive paths to abstraction in both historical periods. 

Wari artist, Tunic, 7th-11th century, Peru, Cotton, Camelid hair. 40 3/4 x 39 3/4 in. (103.5 x 101 cm), approximately. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Claudia Quentin, 2021. Accessionn Number, (2021.146). Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Weaving is one of the oldest and most complex art forms in the Americas, with a rich history beginning 10,000 years ago. Textiles in the ancient Andes—while bold and exceptional in design—were also fundamental to the exchange of information in the pre-Hispanic period, used to swiftly transmit social and political messages in a manner that overcame linguistic and geographic barriers. 

Anni Albers, American (born Germany), Berlin 1899-1994 Orange, Connecticut. Pasture, 1958, Mercerized cotton, 14 x 15 1/2 in. (35.6 x 39.4 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1969 (69.135). Image: © The Josef and Ansi Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2043. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Peter Zeray.

 Artists of early European modernism and the American fiber arts movement sought to uplift and recenter the medium—commonly relegated to the realm of “women’s work.” Each of the four modern artists featured in the exhibition developed innovative approaches to an ancient medium through deep study of Andean techniques. Within this legacy, they responded to the demands and challenges of the modern industrial society while maintaining a firm commitment to abstraction as the language of modernity. Shown together in this exhibition, these ancient and modern weavings reposition the place of textiles in global art history. 

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view March 5 – June 16, 2024. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art., photo by Hyla Skopitz.

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art will feature more than 50 works, including new acquisitions. The exhibition will also include loans from Buffalo Museum of Science; The Museum of Modern Art; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation; Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; and private collectors. 

The exhibition is curated by Iria Candela, Estrellita B. Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator of the Arts of the Ancient Americas in The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. 

Central coast artist, Shirt, 1460-1540, Peru, Camelid hair, cotton. 19 x 47 in. (48.3 x 119.4 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1983, (1983.497.1) Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art will be accompanied by an issue of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. 

The Met’s quarterly Bulletin program is made possible in part by the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, established by the cofounder of Reader’s Digest. 

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view March 5 – June 16, 2024. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art., photo by Hyla Skopitz.

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art will be on view from March 5 to June 16, 2024 at The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 913

On your way to the entrance, enjoy this season’s Met Facade sculptures by Fairy Baghramian, on view through May 28, 2024.

While you’re there, be sure to view ‘Indian Skies: The Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting.’