Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Indigo See

[Image courtesy Lost & Found]

I knew that the 30-piece collection of handcrafted wares curated by film maker and former stylist, Jamie Rosenthal, for Anthropologie is currently only available at the retailer's locations in Austin, Miami, New York, Portland and San Francisco, or online, but not in Georgia. Still, while browsing an Atlanta shop today, I secretly hoped a shipment had been misdirected so that I might stumble across these African-made tie-dyed indigo napkins by Tensira.

The napkins are actually just one example of the indigo goods Rosenthal gathered together for Anthro, and you can shop the collaboration at her store, Lost & Found, too.

[More moody blues from Lost & Found]
For a little indigo primer, head over to Textile Hive. This resource encompasses more than 40,000 textiles from the Andrea Aranow Collection, which has essentially been growing since the 1970s. (Fun aside: Not long after she graduated from Brown, Aranow gained attention creating collage clothes for Jimi Hendrix.)

[Image of Aranow via Textile Hive]

As her collection grew, designers (of fashion, interiors and fabric) drew upon it for inspiration. But today, thanks to Aranow's son, Caleb Sayan, the collection is far more accessible. Working with film maker Andy Chandler and scholar Annin Barrett, this month he launched the free Textile Hive Base, complete with video primers on the centuries-old techniques used to create her coveted fabrics. Later we'll explore the site; In the meantime, see more indigo here.


Matisse at Home

[All screen-shots from 1996's Surviving Picasso]

Merchant-Ivory's Surviving Picasso seems to elicit a range of reactions from various folks. But maybe everyone can agree that the scenes for which the production design team recreated Henri Matisse's digs are among the most visually arresting.

I'm talking about the artist's rooms at the Hotel Regina in the South of France.

Along with Matisse's massive cut-outs, his textile collection is referenced with suzanis and what appear to be other Central Asian, Egyptian and possibly Mughal cloths hanging about.

The real life textile collection is mentioned in a piece I wrote for this weekend's Off Duty. It delves into Matisse's passion for fabric and how contemporary designers are in turn inspired by the artist's work. While researching the story, I spent some time pouring over the old black-and-white photos of Matisse's actual rooms (regular readers have already seen these in some of my past blog posts and, well, pretty much across the internet). Here's a change of pace -- a color-infused look at the way two set decorators channeled the modern master.

Friendly reminder: Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs leaves Tate Modern in early September. Next stop: MoMA. More on that in the WSJ piece.


Get The Picture

[All images in this post from Taschen's Peter Beard.]

This photo of Peter Beard, in one of his tents at Hog Ranch near Nairobi, is a familiar sight thanks to Taschen's series of books (and the internet). Maybe each time you've seen it, your eyes have understandably zeroed in on Beard wrapped in stripes. But take a look at the other stripes in the picture, lower left.

The cloth is covering Nejma Beard's dressing table circa 1990. Glamping before everyone was using the word.

I love the idea of a woven African textile as a backdrop for European-style bottles and brushes, so I pulled some different examples. Below are museum pieces, just for inspiration, but if you're looking to buy, check out the vast range of vintage and antique pieces at Adire.

20th-century cotton and silk from Nigeria (Yoruba peoples). Collection of The Met.

Strip-woven Yoruba cloth from the British Museum.

19th-century woven stripes likely created in Nigeria. Via British Museum.

1960s indigo resist-dyed cloth by the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria. V & A collection.

More 1960s indigo, tie-dyed cotton also by Yoruba peoples. Via the V & A.

Plain-weave 1930s or 40s striped cloth, possibly from Mali. Via British Museum.


Back Stories

I can't remember if it occurred during the late 90s or the early 2000s but at some point the High mounted a large exhibition of Toulouse-Lautrec's work and, apart from his prints, obviously, one element of the show that really stopped me in my tracks was the curators' use of color. Acid green plus tart yellow and orange paint coated the walls making the Belle Époque lithographs appear even more graphic.

So I was intrigued when I learned that Farrow & Ball recently donated to MoMA 17 gallons of their red Blazer paint, along with quieter Dorset Cream and New White, and 72 rolls of the company's Dragged Paper, all to be used for the soon-to-open Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters. This show will include more than 100 pieces that relate to late-19th-century Parisian culture, covering nightlife and the Moulin Rouge, performers, women, visual artists, and food, just to give a sampling.

[Image ©Bringing Nature Home: Floral Arrangements Inspired by Nature, Rizzoli New York, 2012, and published at Style Court with permission from the publisher and photographer.]

In other wall-related news, I confirmed with de Gournay that it was Erica Tanov's bedroom panels -- those oft-blogged and published-in-print, serendipitously oxidized chinoiserie papers -- that created demand for their latest finish: Rose Antique.

[Image courtesy de Gournay]


Athens Scene

[Newcomb Pottery by Sarah A. E. “Sadie” Irvine with Kenneth Smith or Francis Ford: Platter, ca. 1942–48 with Gulf Stream design in the collection of  Newcomb Art Collection, Tulane University.]

On view this summer at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens are two very different shows that explore similar themes: Young art students shaking up their communities. The first traveling exhibition, Women, Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise, is one we've already touched on. With approximately 180 pieces (textiles and metalwork plus the better known ceramics), this show looks at works by the women of Newcomb Pottery, essentially a collective/business experiment begun by Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans in the wake of the Civil War. As I mentioned last year, the exhibition aims to spotlight more of the individual Newcomb artists who've previously remained anonymous.

Likewise, Shapes That Talk to Me: The Athens Scene, 1975–85 delves into the ways in which fledgling artists shaped Athens' burgeoning music community during the golden era. While today the bands of the period are household names, many of the visual artists are not. So the exhibition seeks to give the latter their due. The show is actually part of a larger happening, Art Rocks Athens 2014.


Pattern Play

[Credits follow below. Click for full view.]

Yesterday, the August issue of British Vogue arrived with a nod to Michael Kors's fall 2014 Navajo-related looks. I'm excited to see a range of South Western-inspired styles shown for autumn but, as my recent blog posts indicate, I think the classic Native American blanket stripes, wedge patterns and sunset hues are great in summer too. So, I pulled together an inspiration board.

[Portland Collection blanket inspired by Pueblo designs.] 

[Contemporary Navajo pottery available at the de Young.]

At the moment, the de Young's shop is well-stocked with books on authentic Navajo textiles (in addition to the previously discussed exhibition catalogue). And in Santa Fe, of course, Shiprock offers related vintage books, plus a wonderland of antique and vintage textiles and accessories. The exhibition on view at Shiprock's gallery now through August highlights Pueblo textiles.

Many of my inspiration pics at top are from Shiprock. Here's a break-down, clockwise from the right:

Image of turquoise jewelry via Shiprock's Pinterest page; 19th-century Navajo Wedge Weave blanket, vintage book and Pueblo armbands all available through Shiprock's shop.

Saddle blanket book sold through the de Young's shop.

19th-century Pueblo shoulder blanket is also at Shiprock.

More books about The William Randolph Hearst Collection and other Navajo weavings, again at the de Young.

Lastly, the midcentury rattle is another Pueblo piece at the Santa Fe gallery.

This post was updated at 7.7.14


Zuan Influence

Bold, abstracted patterns, shocking color combinations, and graceful lines: A new show opening at LACMA this Saturday explores changes in Japanese textile design during the 20th century. The jumping off point is a specific type of printed design book, Zuan. With over 50 to share, the museum wants to convey the impact of these books on textile designers, specifically those designing kimono fabrics, but the exhibition will also look at other sorts of surface pattern created for lacquerware, cloisonné and ceramics. Zuan: Japanese Design Books runs July 5 - October 12, 2014 and compliments the concurrent Kimono for a Modern Age.



New to Aleta online is Brigitte Singh's hand-blocked Cream Chrysanthemum Variation 2.

In this mellow, earthy colorway, I can't stop imagining the fabric used for curtains flanking a row of windows in a light-filled, 70s-era, Carole King-esque Laurel Canyon house.

This summer I've been discovering her music -- and her old album covers. Over at this sight, I stumbled across a review that describes the iconic image on Tapestry as "unapologetically domestic." Two thoughts ran through my mind: (A) That would've been a great blog name or online alias; (B) If I ever audit the Women in Rock course, or any class on 20th-century music, I've got a paper topic. Jim McCrary's photo has multiple layers to analyze.

At the moment, I'm juggling work deadlines so for now let's just think about window seats and the possibilities of Singh's new collection.


Pattern Play

[Detail images via Sarajo]

Feathers of birds and scales of fish are all stylized into red and white stripes on this early-20th-century mola by the Kuna women of Panama.

A graphic appliquéd piece (17" x 19") available through Sarajo, it seems like a great candidate to frame and hang. Up close, it kind of feels like some of Bridget Riley's monochromatic Op Art works that came decades later, right?

To see multi-colored molas, visit the Hood Museum. On a loosely related note, across the pond, London's Fashion and Textile Museum has on view Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion. The exhibition is said to be the first ever devoted to the shawls favored by Frida Kahlo.


Drawn In: Kelly at the High

Instagram isn't the only place to get a peony fix.

The High recently acquired Ellsworth Kelly's  Peony, a graphite work on paper from 1979 that was seen in The Met's big 2012 show. Described by Kelly as a "plant portrait," this spare drawing will go on view in Atlanta June 28 as part of the new exhibition Top Drawer: Select Drawings from the High’s Collection, along with pieces by Jasper Johns, Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Thornton Dial, Eva Hesse, Brice Marden, John Marin and more. There you'll really be able to appreciate Kelly's skillful use of line. Learn more here.


Textile Scout™

[Unless credited otherwise, all photography courtesy Zak + Fox. Above, Khaden in Himalaya.]

I want to re-watch Kundun or Seven Years in Tibet. In the past when I've seen these movies, I've been preoccupied with the colorful stripes but now, thanks to the release of Zak + Fox's printed linen, Khaden, a design inspired by historic dyed wool and cotton Tibetan "tiger rugs," I think I need to check out what the films' set decorators did with the floors.     

[Khaden in Bengal]

Traditionally, woven Tibetan carpets incorporate tigers' stripes as a motif. A few years ago there was a show at The Met, Rugs and Ritual in Tibetan Buddhism, with some terrific older examples that convey how the stripes were abstracted into graphic patterns. Although, those tantric rugs were still somewhat representational, outlining the wild animal's head and paws. In contrast, Zak + Fox's riff is solely about pattern: wavy, painterly looking stripes set off by a layered six-inch border running down both sides of the fabric. (Are you imagining it on an ottoman, too?)

You can find the new print at Hollywood at Home or at the Zak + Fox NYC showroom.

Harder to track down is the lavish new tome devoted to Karun Thakar's collection of Indian textiles. Featuring essays by the V & A's Rosemary Crill and The Met's John Guy, the book is currently backordered at Powell's as well as the major online emporiums, but worth waiting for. More on this title when I get my hands on an actual copy.


Throwback Thursday

[Photography by Susan Sully © Houses with Charm: Simple Southern Style, Rizzoli New York, 2013.]

I've probably picked up the habit of applying the "iconic" label a bit too liberally, but when MoMA's director, Glenn Lowry, uses the adjective to describe The Swimming Pool, one of his Museum's most treasured works by Matisse, I think the word truly fits. Thanks to MoMA's major conservation project, the epic (again, Lowry's word) fifty-four-foot-long blue-and-white paper frieze made in 1952 is now a highlight of the current exhibition, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.

When Matisse created The Swimming Pool, it blurred boundaries in more ways than one: it straddled lines between fine art and decoration, and between sculpture and painting, writes Lowry, and its subjects -- the graceful figures in the water -- splashed out beyond the white horizontal band and onto Matisse's burlap-covered dining room walls.

More than half a century later, the frieze still inspires: Today I'm looking back at designer Amelia Handegan's use of a Matisse-inspired mural. Pictured above is the painting she commissioned from Kristin Bunting for a Sullivan's Island dining room.


Under Mexican Skies

[Hand-embroidered Maggie Galton Chipas pillow speaks to Mexico's heritage.]

Last year, thanks to the High's major exhibition, Frida & Diego, and the show's requisite pop-up gift shop, Mexican textiles and other handcrafted objects had the spotlight here in Atlanta. Some of the wares were from art historian turned designer / product developer Maggie Galton. (Currently you can find her things along with other makers' textiles at the much-buzzed-about JM Drygoods.)

[Oaxacan striped throw is from JM Drygoods.]

For me, seeing the intricate patterns and bold colors in person sparked a new design crush that hasn't really waned. So, I'm happy to report that another exhibition of Mexican works, Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Moon: Wixárika Arts of Modern West Mexico, is on view this summer at Emory University's Carlos Museum. This show focuses on beadwork (think bowls and masks) and yarn paintings.

[Sakma Hayek in Miramax's Frida, 2002.] 

Related past posts:
Revisiting Frida


Flash Back Friday

[Liza Ryan, Exploded Moment

Here's one for the road. To be inspired by more of Los Angeles-based Ryan’s work, check out the very budget-friendly softcover book, Liza Ryan: Fragment published by the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins in conjunction with a 2012 exhibition. Fun fact: in the past few years the Museum has received many props for their outstanding art publications.