Shapes and colors

Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes, Mulhouse

Past exhibitionFrom 11 November 2016 to 1 October 2017

All the action of the paint lives in the report of colors between them, in the report of shapes between them, and in the report between colors and shapes.
Auguste Herbin (1882-1960)
If it goes on like this for the painting for Auguste Herbin, it might be the same for the pattern, expressive or decorative which comes to decorate the printed linen.
The use of colors and geometric shapes aim to be understood by everybody, but also to be applicable in every domain.
Shapes and colors offer a broad range of combinations and possibilities, but this obvious simplicity is also a limitation. It is accessible to all but, alike writing process it can be more or less successful.
The textile designer would completely master the use of forms and colors.
Since the 17th Century, the success of the first Indiennes in Occident is bound to the richness of its colors. It enlightened the Europeans’ houses and clothes, very quickly, several manufacturers took inspiration from its patterns. The Indiennes represent the basis of the decorative textile’s vocabulary. The use of natural colors (essentially madder and indigo colors) confined the creativity but the drawer’s imagination had no limit when it came to providing new drawings, which were necessary to meet with commercial success. Indeed, fabrics have to be attractive to reach a wider customer base, the offer has to be continuously renewed. As a result, the designers would completely master the use of forms and colors.
The harmony of forms and colors is a recurring subject in the textile world. During the Antiquity already, the problem of colors’ coordination and the problem of the luminosity’s effect on weavings was raised.
Originally, the colorist hat only a few hues on-hand. Since the discovery of the first synthetic dyes in the 1850s, only natural color on purple, madder, pastel, indigo, kermes, cochineal, saffron and sorrel were used to the fabric dyeing and printing process. Manufacturers had always been concerned by the color chemistry. In France for instance a particular chemistry based on scientific principles for dyes started to develop. In Alsace Jean-Michel Haussmann (1742-1829), a manufacturer of Logelbach next to Colmar, became a pioneer as he improved the mordants’ application on cotton and linen fabrics. In the 1790s, some mineral dyes appeared such as iron oxide (which gives a red color), antimony (orange), Prussian blue and the bister obtained by the manganese (brown).
Since the 18th Century, designer found their inspiration in the smallest, which became more accessible thanks to the discovery and amelioration of the microscope. They create abstract pieces of art covered by modules looking like human cells.
During the 19th Century, which also marked the beginning of chemistry, imagination is intensified by the engraving techniques’ improvement and the use of wool. In a commercial purpose, manufacturers joined the movement and used abstract of geometrical shapes. They also got interested in contrasts and color blends, and used third dimension to create kinetic cloths.
During the 20th Century, modern painting tagged along with ideological discourse through positions of painters such as Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), Piet Mondrian (187-1944), Josef Albers (1888-1976) or Victor Vasarely (1906-1997). In the 30’s, the Art Deco style gave birth to geometrical and graphical fabrics in the same spirit as the decoration and the furniture of that time. In the 50’s and the 60’s paintings inspired fashion and the textile world through movements such as the geometric or lyric abstraction. In the 70’s the kinetic geometry embraced the fabrics’ production. Nowadays, the Street Art’s colorful trend offers a new perspective to the world of the decorative textile.
Sometimes, designers were pioneers as they produced fore-front patterns, sometimes, they copy or get inspiration from painters. For instance, in 1965 Yves Saint Laurent imagined his famous Mondrian dress for his autumn/winter collection. This dress was inspired by Piet Mondrian, one of the creator of abstract geometric painting. The Mondrian dress would be imitated at several occasions later on.
The exhibition “Shapes and colors” invites the visitor to dive in a fascinating universe: graphic and colorful, spontaneous and abstract, in which the works of great masters of the painting have a dialogue with the creations of textile brilliant draftsmen.

J. Albers 'Study for homage to the square' 1973

J. Albers ’Study for homage to the square’ 1973

40 x 40 cm oil on masonite

Shapes and colors. Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes, Mulhouse