Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction
Richly illustrated volume exploring the inseparable histories of modernist abstraction and twentieth-century textiles.
Published on the occasion of an exhibition curated by Lynne Cooke, Woven Histories offers a fresh and authoritative look at textiles—particularly weaving—as a major force in the evolution of abstraction. This richly illustrated volume features more than fifty creators whose work crosses divisions and hierarchies formerly segregating the fine arts from the applied arts and handicrafts.
Woven Histories begins in the early twentieth century, rooting the abstract art of Sophie Taeuber-Arp in the applied arts and handicrafts, then features the interdisciplinary practices of Anni Albers, Sonia Delaunay, Liubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova, and others who sought to effect social change through fabrics for furnishings and apparel. Over the century, the intersection of textiles and abstraction engaged artists from Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Ruth Asawa, Lenore Tawney, and Sheila Hicks to Rosemarie Trockel, Ellen Lesperance, Jeffrey Gibson, Igshaan Adams, and Liz Collins, whose textile-based works continue to shape this discourse. Including essays by distinguished art historians as well as reflections from contemporary artists, this ambitious project traces the intertwined histories of textiles and abstraction as vehicles through which artists probe urgent issues of our time.
Praise for Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction
"This major looker of an exhibition catalog loosens up the warp and weft of conventional views of modern art—all those tight-knotted hierarchical categories (high versus low, art versus craft) on which our institutions and markets still rest—and demonstrates the universe of formal and conceptual brilliance that has always traveled on a parallel track. The sheer variety of work produced by more than 50 artists chosen by the book’s editor, Lynne Cooke, will knock your socks off. (Just wait till you see what’s happening in the field of basketry alone.) So will the visual imaginations of individual geniuses we already know like Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Gego, Lenore Tawney and Sheila Hicks, and the others we’re introduced to here."
— New York Times, on "Best Art Books of 2023"
"In centering weaving—thread, fiber, and cloth—Woven Histories differently tracks adaptations from within the frame of its traditions."
— Brooklyn Rail
"Placing textiles — and centrally weaving — at the heart of modern abstract art, Cooke selected from the work of around fifty textile artists. She also invited five art critics to respond to the thorny issues raised when weaving and abstract art are linked. Most powerfully, six contemporary fiber artists were asked to draw on their creative perspectives to comment on the works of other fiber artists in the show. . . . Cooke’s majestic compendium of woven artists contains over one hundred finely reproduced illustrations."
— Arts Fuse