In-depth exhibition features over 40 modern and contemporary tapestries

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In-depth exhibition features over 40 modern and contemporary tapestries
Nomadic Murals: Tapestries of the Modern Era, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC, 2019, (installation view). Courtesy Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

CHARLOTTE, NC.- The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina presents Nomadic Murals: Tapestries of the Modern Era, an exploration and presentation of over 40 tapestries created by artists usually associated with painting, sculpture, and architecture, including Alexander Calder, Le Corbusier, Ebony G. Patterson, and Pablo Picasso among many others. On view from April 5 to December 1, 2019, the exhibition highlights the museum’s in-depth collection of tapestries from the mid-20th century, as well as shed light on a unique medium that has been important to many great Modern and contemporary artists. This is the first time that the museum’s entire tapestries collection are on view at once. The tapestries have been hung alongside the artists’ work in more familiar media to demonstrate both the stylistic consistency and the unique contributions textile production brought to their oeuvre. The title of the exhibition stems from Le Corbusier’s essay “Tapestries: Nomadic Murals.”

Tapestries, a centuries-old tradition, found renewed attention and invention over the last century, in particular by artists from the 20th century who tackled a venerated practice with avant-garde zeal. Some artists adapted existing images into commercial production, giving the 20th-century medium of the multiple a high design expression. Others became intrigued by the tapestry revival initiated in France by the artist and scholar Jean Lurçat and the tapestry producer Marie Cuttoli, both of whom worked closely with their contemporaries to develop an appreciation for the tradition while incorporating the new visual languages of abstraction, cubism, and surrealism.

Nomadic Murals: Tapestries of the Modern Era features important tapestries by Modern masters from Marc Chagall and René Magritte to Joan Miró and Frank Stella among many others. Five newly conserved tapestries by Alexander Calder, Diego Giacometti, Fernand Léger, Roy Lichtenstein, and Pablo Picasso in the museum’s collection—made possible by the Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant—are on view for the first time, and eight exceptional tapestries by Le Corbusier between 1948 and 1965 come from the Le Corbusier Foundation in Paris. Other highlights with strong connections to Charlotte and the Bechtler Museum include two works by Charlotte-born African-American artist Romare Bearden, and several geometric tapestries by Mario Botta, the Swiss architect behind the Bechtler Museum’s building. These modern masterpieces will be in dialogue with several contemporary works by artists such as Fred Tomaselli, Kiki Smith, Peter Blake, and others.

John Boyer, President and CEO of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, noted, “Tapestry has a wide appeal to a variety of audiences for its intricate beauty and its transferability. Our museum is eager to explore and celebrate this remarkable work by so many major figures of 20th century modernism as well as select artists working today in this splendid medium. North Carolina is a particularly interesting place to present this exhibition, as the community has a rich history of textile production and continues to be a leader in today’s cutting-edge technology and design.”

Jay Everette, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations, added, “Wells Fargo’s Private Bank is honored to serve as the lead presenting funder for this extraordinary exhibition. We were intrigued by the Bechtler’s vision to present these compelling modern artists’ work in a tapestry medium, which makes the exhibition so unique. The Wells Fargo Foundation has funded previous exhibitions of Romare Bearden’s collage and watercolors, so we were especially excited to see his works included in this new tapestry medium.”

A catalogue including essays by John Boyer, President and CEO of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and Katharine Wells, Assistant Professor of American Art and Architecture at the University of Wisconsin, as well as an interview with textile conservator Patricia Ewer, accompanies the exhibition.

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