Hanging by a Thread

February 20, 2019By Heidi EllisonArchive, Exhibitions
"Tondo," by Marinette Cueco. Collection Villa Datris. Photo: Franck Couvreur
“Tondo,” by Marinette Cueco. Collection Villa Datris. Photo: Franck Couvreur

Long disrespected as a “women’s” craft, weaving is coming into its own as an art form, just as ceramics, also long considered a craft rather than an art, has in recent years. “Tissage-Tressage,” a wonderful (and free) exhibition at the new gallery space of the Fondation Villa Datris in Paris, shows it off at its best, in an incredible variety of forms and materials.  

TBT" (2018), by Sheila Hicks. Collection Villa Datris. Photo: Franck Couvreur
“TBT” (2018), by Sheila Hicks. Collection Villa Datris. Photo: Franck Couvreur

The first room focuses on “historical” works, showing pieces by well-known artists like American Sheila Hicks (the subject of a recent show at the Centre Pompidou) and a joyful Aubusson tapestry designed by Sonia Delaunay, “Automne” (1970). The latter, all circles and half-circles in vibrant colors, is strikingly reminiscent of a 1907 work by the spirit-inspired Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (who is being credited by some with the invention of abstract art, but that’s another story), currently on show at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. 

A spectacular monumental hanging (2017) made of woven carbon fiber, by Amélie Giacomini and Laura Sellies, displayed in a courtyard, has a long, rambling title and an incomprehensible artspeak description by the artists. Best to just enjoy looking at it and know that the golden flap may represent a tongue, perhaps one that has been silenced by oppression (that’s the best I can do). 

Among the many other standouts in the show is a room full of enchantingly delicate, spider-web-like pieces by Marinette Cueco made of “interlacings” of various dried grasses. The loveliest is perhaps the spiral of the three-dimensional “Tondo” (1992) (pictured at the top of this page). 

One of today’s best-known artists working with yarn, Joana Vasconcelos (her work is also on show at the Bon Marché department store through March 24), is present with “Robinette” (2013), consisting of a bathroom sink with wildly colorful crocheted pipes sprouting madly from it. 

Tissage-Tressage. Exhibition view.
Exhibition view.

Other pieces include a shaman’s dress woven from strips of plastic garbage bags, by Stéphanie Maï Hanuš; a glowing sculpture made of copper wire by Antonella Zazzera; and “Onantsira,” a work by the appropriately named Anne Lacouture, which refers to the Huron tribe’s practice of sewing the scalps of their enemies together. This more peaceful work involves no human scalps, but is made of little baize pockets sewn together. Visitors are encouraged to write something on the bits of paper provided, which Lacouture will sew into the work to make it grow during the course of the exhibition. 

“Tissage-Tressage” was a great success, deservedly so, when it was shown in Isle de la Sorgue in Provence last year, and the Fondation Villa Datris is a welcome addition to the Parisian art scene. Do pay a visit.


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