Monday, January 20, 2014

Little escap(ad)e: "To open Eyes" in Kunsthalle Bielefeld

A few weeks ago I found the announcement of two large exhibitions of fiber art in art museums in the paper: „To open eyes – Fiber Art from Bauhaus until today“ in Bielefeld, und „Art and Textile“ in Wolfsburg.

My husband immediately wanted to send me off to take a look at both of them one after the other, but as we live on the other end of the country, we could not really fit it in, although Germany is relatively small compared to some other countries. However, I was visiting with friends not too far away from Bielefeld right after New Year’s, and that gave me a chance to at least see this exhibition, which is still on until Feb 16.

Bielefeld used to be a city with several linen factories and the exhibition included information on that, as well as on Anni AlbersGunta Stölzl and Benita Koch-Otte and other weavers from the Bauhaus, fabric patterns from Wiener Werkstätten, Sonia Delaunay, former professor of art Sofie Dawo (some pictures here), fiber artist Marianne Meyer-Weißgerber (whom I had never heard of before, but really liked her miniature pieces), 

(taken from the website linked to her name above)
Sheila Hicks (some pictures here and a pinterest page here), and several other modern artist who have worked in fiber - some only occasionally, some more frequently. Aligiero e Boetti let Afghan women do the work of stitching for his series Mappa, embroidered maps of the world as boundaries changed (link to one that is in MOMA).
No photographs were allowed, not even without a flash. And although the catalogue is interesting and informative, it is would be much easier and probably more personal if I could show you a few photos I took and talk about them. But it is a very interesting exhibition and worth seeing, and it is wonderful to see so many pieces of art made from fiber in one exhibition together.
Although there were several pieces classified as ‚patchwork’ which would not have made it into any juried quilt show. Basically, they were pieces of fabric wonder-undered onto a white background, not stitched, no quilting – but with the topic ‘death’. Now what does that tell us about quilts in the art world? You have to have an art degree, and then make ugly fiber pieces, then you will get into museums. Or do you have to wait for 70 years, such as Gunta Stölzl, before they will start recognizing you? Well, Sheila Hicks didn’t have to wait for so long.
Nevertheless: well worth seeing!


  1. Thanks for the links about this exhibition - I wish i could have seen it. I did my final study when I did my City and Guilds in Embroidery on the artists of the Bauhaus and I have always loved their work. Do you know if there is a permanent collection in Germany?

    1. There isnt a permanent collection. But they have just extended the exhibition until 2nd March so you might still make it! Wolfsburg is really worth going too! :)

    2. That's not quite true - there are several places that have Bauhaus exhibitions, i.e. in Berlin, in Dessau, in Weimar, and you can find lots and lots of pictures on the web There were quite a few temporary exhibitions last year because of the centenniary, too, and there are more and more publications on the market, especially re-interpreting the women's role in the school, and the textiles.