Born in post-war Paris, Marc Camille Chaimowicz debuted in the London art scene of the ’60s and ’70s with his now-signature environmental installations and performances, whose seductive palettes stood out against the mostly black-and-white artistic landscape of the time. Years later, in concurrence with the establishment of a postmodern design similarly informed by research into patterns and decoration, he published a book entitled "12 Décors Textiles" (1983), outlining a fascination that would appear throughout his entire production in the form of textiles, rugs and tapestries.
On view since last October at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, “Decorum” is an exhibition that Chaimowicz has contributed to as guest artistic director. Presenting the most relevant examples of textile art from 20th- and 21st-century art history—from Picasso to Le Corbusier, from Alighiero Boetti to Nathalie Du Pasquier, to representatives of younger generations such as Alexandre da Cunha and Marius Engh—the exhibition aims to question the dominant discrimination of the high arts over the applied.
“In the contemporary world, choosing fabric as a material and using old techniques to work it represents the first significant, strong gesture,” reads the press release of another ongoing exhibition on this topic, “Soft Pictures,” curated by Irene Calderoni at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin. Showcasing a string of more distinctly contemporary artists, including Mike Kelley, Enrico David, Francesco Vezzoli, Goshka Macuga, Adele Roeder and Slavs and Tatars, the exhibition foregrounds the notion of the image, the complex relation with the pictorial, and the modernist diktat of medium specificity.
For an opportunity to dig further into these reflections, it is worth reading this interview with Anni Albers, whose work appears in both exhibitions and whose thinking can be summed up with the following: “Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done: the dictation of the materials.”