Textile Design: Artists’ Textiles 1940–1976 by Geoffrey Rayner, Richard Chamberlain & Annamarie Stapleton - review by Peyton Skipwith

Peyton Skipwith

Wearing Warhol

Textile Design: Artists’ Textiles 1940–1976


Antique Collectors’ Club 304pp £29.95

Textiles, from dress and furnishing fabrics to tapestries, seem to be the hot topic this summer, with a number of books on the subject. Now ACC have come up with Textile Design. This profusely illustrated book with well-informed essays gives a balanced overview of artists’ involvement in the designing of textiles in France, Britain and the United States. The dates given in the title are somewhat arbitrary, as the book opens with an excellent section entitled ‘Introduction 1910–1939’, devoted largely to the Omega Workshops, Cryséde, Cresta Silks and the American designer Ruth Reeves with her ‘ground-breaking collection of textiles and wall hangings’ exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in 1930. Reeves is described as ‘arguably the most significant American textile designer of the twentieth century’. Equally, 1976 seems perverse as the cut-off point, as the section devoted to Andy Warhol opens with the statement that ‘as in Britain, the involvement of artists with commercial textile design drew to a close in America during the 1960s’.

The Warhol section is interesting: his dress fabrics, which are described as ‘great fun’, did not prove popular, as ‘clothing covered with images of giant pretzels or ice cream cones was not considered quite de rigueur at the time’. Certainly a photograph from Glamour magazine of a young lady wearing

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RLF - March