Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol

Date: May 2 - Oct 4, 2015

Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol is a major international exhibition offering a fascinating overview of 20th-century textile designs from some of the the world’s most renowned artists. More than 200 works on fabric trace the history of art in textiles, with examples from key European and American art movements including Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Modernism, Surrealism and Pop Art as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers. Featuring work by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore, Fernand Léger, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder, most of these rare pieces have not been on public display before.

Additional Information

Blending the distinctions between fine art and design, Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol highlights a unique creative medium for artists over the last century. At the height of the separation of the art and life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, textile design offered an effective way to challenge boundaries. Through pattern design and industrially manufactured textiles made for the mass market, artists found ways to make their work less elitist and more accessible to broader audiences in personal and intimate ways through clothing and home furnishings, the influence of which continues to reverberate today. After the Second World War, artist textiles would flourish with the involvement of a new wave of leading contemporary artists with conceptual and pop sensibilities, including Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Ben Nicholson, Sonia Delaunay and Henri Matisse, among others. Textile design offered a natural correlation with graphic design and printmaking and the practice quickly became an important and lasting aspect of these artists’ work.

Early artist textiles went on to become commercially produced clothing, giving consumers access to a Joan Miró dress or a Salvador Dalí tie. Later, various textile companies manufactured artist textiles: Henri Matisse and Henry Moore designed shawls for Ascher Ltd in the UK and Marino Marini and Victor Vasarely for Edinburgh Weavers. Post-war in the United States, the new élan led to commissions for artists such as Salvador Dalí and the Hungarian Marcel Vertès. In the mid-1950s, an ambitious collaboration between a textile company and artists produced the Modern Masters series. New York-based Fuller Fabrics released a line of Picasso prints, quickly followed by ‘Art by the Yard’ by Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, Marc Chagall and Raoul Dufy. Even Pop artist Andy Warhol turned his hand to textiles in the early 1960s, designing food-related patterns that have only recently become widely known.

Highlighting textiles as a medium for combining art and mass production, this exhibition sheds new light on artistic practice in Europe and North America, as breakthrough works of many renowned artists brought about a wider appreciation of textile design as a medium for artistic expression, revolutionizing textile design and production. Artist Textiles: From Picasso to Warhol and the accompanying exhibition catalogue were organised by the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, UK.

Support for the related 40th anniversary event below is provided by Michael Barnstijn & Louise MacCallum.

Related Programs and Events

The Inside Story: The Art History of Artist Textiles

Date: September 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 pm

Please join us for an evening with Dr. Elizabeth Legge as she explores the way leading artists of the 20th-century tried their hand at design, and the ways that the art of painting on canvas happily embraced the bolt of cloth. Chair of the Department of Art at the University of Toronto, Elizabeth Legge has written extensively on contemporary and modern art. A graduate of the Courtauld Institute at the University of London, she has been guest speaker for numerous cultural and educational organizations including the Tate Modern, the University of Amsterdam, and Johns Hopkins University.


Tickets: $25 (General); $20 (Members)
Reservations required.
Purchase online or call 416 599 5321 x2228