Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’Herbe is considered the departure point for modern art; it was rejected for inclusion in the 1863 Salon and treated with laughter and derision. It however strongly referenced various moments of European art, including Titian’s Concert Champetre and works by Watteau. But Manet made no concession to subtle gradations between light and shade, seen as necessary to representation. Nor was perspective very accurate. . From that great work we have arrived at the ferocious Appel and his fellow Cobra artists to more recently the graffitti coated images of Basquiat.
This year the American Tapestry Association (ATA) is holding an exhibition of small tapestries in Denton, Texas, and Tacoma Washington. The NY curator and judge Rudi Dundas looked at 125 works and selected 40, of which I was one. My polyptych of five pieces is called Peter and the Wolf. Of course it is a reference to the Prokofiev work, that has strong folkloric tones. My pieces are the grandfather (top left), the bird (top right), shouting mouth (centre), boy looking very sure of himself (bot right) and wolf (bot left}.
None of the works are larger than 20 cms per side. In the grand tapestry weaving ateliers of France a small piece of woven tapestry was referred to as a “dishcloth”. However, the wheel of culture has turned somewhat. While large works of whatever medium are still regarded more favourably in galleries, collages using fragments that add to the theme of the whole by their arrangement are also seen more frequently. Personally, I find that small works are more intense. Though, not having worked in a tapestry workshop, it is not for me to compare the two without prior experience.
My works lack much perspectival subtlety or any attempt to define shapes by traditional means of shading; I have not, on the other hand, resorted to a brutalist or so-called primitive means of representation. I look forward to the reaction of viewers at the two venues.