Design at Riverside
7 Melville Street S, Cambridge, ON
For the first time, Design at Riverside presents a rarely exhibited group of works from Idea Exchange Permanent Collection of Contemporary fibre artworks. These ‘tapestries’ of artworks by famous artists from around the world were manufactured for the most part in limited editions by the renowned French firm Aubusson, and were acquired by the collection through donation. There is a long history of collaboration between artists and textile/rug manufacturers and in this instance the works of Vasarely, Miro, and Leger are joined by contemporary tapestries by Canadian and American artists and illustrators.
The Rugs of Reactor Art & Design
Reactor was founded in 1982 in downtown Toronto as an illustration oriented design and art studio. They came to prominence as an international design force in the graphic revolution that swept through the design and merchandise world in the 1980's. Reactor was a "first of kind" Canadian design collective that was able to capitalize on the rapid convergence of publishing, manufacturing and retailing. They recognized the power of the designer’s role in influencing consumer culture and saw the need for a multi-disciplined studio committed to the idea of “artrepreneurship”.
Starting in 1987, Reactor began creating rugs for the residential market in Canada and the United States. The goal of Reactor’s rugs was to bring art to the “fifth wall” by exploring the visual opportunities that looking down offers.
Some of the rugs were commissions, others were the result of a personal vision. Most were one-of-a-kind, some were produced in limited runs. The rugs were hand-tufted in 100% wool and were produced by various mills in in Taipei (Republic of China), Morocco, Israel and Indonesia.
Jamie Bennett, Federico Botana, Steven Guarnaccia, Barbara Klunder, Jeff Jackson, James Marsh, Maurice Vellekoop, Tracey Wood, and Rene Zamic were the Reactor artists who designed Reactor rugs from 1987 to 2001.
Contemporary French Tapestries Collection
Produced in collaboration with the artists, under the auspices of Marie Cuttoli with Lucie Weill-Seligmann Galleries, Paris
Hand Woven in Aubusson, France
Exhibition and catalogue launch at the Charles E. Slatkin Galleries, New York, September – October, 1965
Followed by a back-to-back tour of the exhibition to 20 museums across the United States ending in December 1967
From the Contemporary French Tapestries catalogue 1965
From the Essay a Note on Tapestries and Rug Hangings
By Albert Chatelet, Conservateur des Musées de France
“The excavation which took place some years ago in the icy soil of the Altaic regions brought to light astonishing objects some twenty-five centuries old. Among them was the oldest known rug. This established striking evidence of the antiquity of the art of weaving, and perhaps more important, it clearly showed that from the very beginnings, the creation of rugs was not simply for the comfort and warmth of its wool, but also for its surface decoration, enlivened by a procession of winged griffons, deer and horsemen.
The original distinction between rug and tapestry was based on the method of weaving, the one being usually a pile, the other a flat surface. Even this difference has largely vanished. Today, even more than in the past, the use of these hangings is generally interchangeable. They have surrendered their utilitarian function to a primarily aesthetic one. It is no longer the chill of bare walls or the draftiness of stone houses, but the desire to brighten the surroundings and gladden the eye that dictates their use. In short, the terms themselves have become interchangeable in modern times.
Madame Marie Cuttoli, who succeeded in persuading the best painters (including Raoul Dufy, Roualt, Braque, Matisse, Derain, Léger, Mirò, Picasso etc) to renew the old art of tapestry, understood this close relationship. She was encouraged in her first attempts to renew this art in the ‘30’s when they were first done in her neighbouring Algerian workshops where authentic craftsmen created sumptuous effects. For Mme. Cuttoli, the artistic whole dictates every stage in the realization of a tapestry. While others, as far back as 1925 have taken on the challenge of producing rugs and tapestries, no one else understood the creative sensitivity and the quality achieved by an exceptional weaver and the right selection of wool and dyes. This is what distinguishes her contribution, and it will appear even more clearly as time goes on.
This joint creative venture sprang naturally from the union of the crafts, proud of their techniques and their traditions—with the spirit of modern art. To the tapestry the great contemporary masters bring living symbols revitalized by a creative imagination which has freed them from tradition. These artists have destroyed the monotony of repeat rhythms and dull symmetry, both of which had stifled the art of the rug. The third partner is the wool itself which rediscovers its true function: that is to be a noble material given masterly colour and form by an artist and woven with the greatest care for perfection and artistic sensitivity. The graphism, imagination, architectural patterning and poetic vision of contemporary art are completely at home in the medium of wool.”
Barbara Klunder is a Toronto illustrator, painter and mixed media artist well known for her nightclub, music event and theatre posters. She has executed editorial commissions for the major Canadian and American magazines, as well as advertising assignments for leading agencies in both countries. She was commissioned to design three typefaces for Berlin’s FontShop. She has done artwear Tshirts, hand knitted sweaters, art purses and art carpets. Her work has been exhibited extensively across North America including significant exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Craft Museum, and a solo show Tapestries for the Environment at the Textile Museum of Canada. She has written and illustrated two children’s books and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement from Art Directors Club of Canada in 2009. She has even created an embroidered book for the Dalai Lama! Barbara lives offshore on Toronto Island and currently focuses her energy on intricate paper cuts and making small books.
Jeff Jackson attended the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo and the Ontario College of Art. His love of drawing, design, and architecture has always been the foundation of his career. He has worked internationally as an editorial illustrator. Beyond magazines, his illustrations have been featured on posters and postage stamps, published in annual reports and advertising campaigns. He has been the recipient of many illustration awards and has frequently been featured in both American and Canadian graphic arts annuals.
Jeff's work as an artist has appeared in many places. He has exhibited his drawings and paintings in galleries in Toronto, New York, Paris and Tokyo. His designs have been used on ceramics, textiles and rugs. He has executed public and corporate commissions for murals. Jeff lives and works in Toronto.
Rene Zamic was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and studied Communication and Design at the Ontario College of Art. Upon graduation, he worked as a book designer for the Canadian publisher, McClelland and Stewart. After taking a one year sabbatical and tour Europe and Asia in 1977, Rene began illustrating using a variety of media. His illustrations and designs have appeared on textiles, rugs, murals and installations. He has been commissioned by ad agencies, design companies and publishers of magazines, books, newspapers and web sites throughout North America and has won numerous publishing awards for illustration. As an early adapter to the computer in 1987, Rene mastered the intricacies of working in vector format. This allowed him to push his graphic style of illustration further off the printed page and into the world of CNC cutting and metal sculpture.
As a professional artist, Rene’s medium of choice has spanned airbrush, scratchboard, pen and ink, sculpture in plaster, laser cut steel and fabrication and computer-based electronic art. Rene lives and works in Toronto.
Maurice studied Communication and Design at the Ontario College of Art and began illustrating and showing his work during his third year at College. Since then he has worked for most major North American editorial publications including Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Brides, British GQ, CA Magazine, Cosmetics, Fashion, Forbes, Forbes Life, Glamor, Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Newsweek, New Yorker, New York Times, New York Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire (France), More, Mother Jones, Out Magazine, Rolling Stone, Saturday Night, Sports Illustrated, Toronto Life, Town & Country, Vogue, Vault, Wallpaper, Walrus.
Maurice is an accomplished author and publishes his own illustrated comics on a continuing basis. Since 1997 he has had seven books published of his work. Maurice lives and works on Wards Island in Toronto.
Jamie Bennett is based in Toronto and studied Graphic Design at Sheridan College. She worked as a graphic designer before focusing on illustration. Jamie's art has appeared in magazines and on book covers, posters, calendars, CD covers, corporate brochures and postage stamps. She has designed rugs, jewellery and children's toys. Her publishing clients include Esquire, American Health, Premiere, Travel & Leisure, GQ, The Boston Globe, Travel Holiday, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Ray Gun, Marie Claire (France), New Scientist (Britain) and Elle (British edition).
James Marsh began his illustration career working in the English recording industry in London, where in 1966, he met and began working with the graphic designer, Alan Aldridge at his Ink Studios, where he had the opportunity to work on high profile projects including ‘The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Chelsea Girls’ movie poster. Since then, his illustrations have been commissioned worldwide by the advertising, publishing and magazine industries. His work has been featured on everything from posters and packaging to books and magazine covers. He has been featured in leading European and North American graphic arts periodicals and annuals, winning numerous awards both at home and abroad. James is best known for collaborating with the seminal 1980’s band Talk Talk, creating all of their iconic album covers & posters throughout the band’s career. Constantly evolving, he’s been creating personal abstract paintings, reliefs and prints. James lives and works in Hythe, Kent, UK.
Steven Guarnaccia is an illustrator and designer, and Associate Professor of Illustration at Parsons The New School for Design, where he was the director of the Illustration Program from 2004-2011. He was previously the art-director of the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. During his 35-year career as an internationally recognized illustrator he has worked for major magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Abitare, Rolling Stone and Domus, has created murals for Disney Cruise Lines, and exhibition drawings for a show of Achille Castiglione’s work at the Museum of Modern Art. He is the author of books on popular culture and design, including Black and White, a book on the absence of color, published by Chronicle Books. Guarnaccia has designed watches and packaging for Swatch, and greeting cards for the Museum of Modern Art. He has won awards from the AIGA, the Art Directors Club, and the Bologna Book Fair and has exhibited his work in one-man shows in the USA and Europe. His children’s books include The Three Bears: A Tale Moderne, The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale and Cinderella: A Fashionable Tale, all published by Corraini Editore in Italy and Abrams in the US. Steven lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Hans, or Jean Arp as he was known in France, was a sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist from Alsace. He was a founding member of the Dada and Surrealist movements and originator of the Paris-based group Abstraction-Création. During the 1930s, Arp produced several small works made of multiple elements that the viewer could pick up, separate, and rearrange into new configurations. Arp was awarded the main sculpture prize at the 1954 Venice Biennale and one of two main sculpture prizes at the 1964 Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture. In 1958, a retrospective of Arp's work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, followed by an exhibition at the Musée National d'art Moderne in 1962. It consisted of sculptures, reliefs and seldom-exhibited oil paintings, drawings, collages, prints and textiles. The Musée d'art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg houses many of his paintings and sculptures.
Max Ernst was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. He was an artillery officer in WWI, but still managed to paint. During the Second World War he was saved from the Gestapo with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, whom he briefly married. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism. His Dada collages and photomontages were ingeniously arranged to suggest the multiple identity of the things depicted. Ernst used several different techniques including frottage (pencil rubbings) which provided him with a means of evoking hallucinatory visions, and decalcomania, (the technique of transferring paint from one surface to another by pressing the two surfaces together). In later life Ernst created more sculpture and was less experimental. Significant collections of his work are held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Tate Gallery, London.
Fernand Léger was born on February 4, 1881, in Argentan, France. Originally he trained as an apprentice in architecture in Caen and was working as a draughtsman. He studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs and the Academie Julian in Paris France. A prominent French artist, he is known for his work as a painter, illustrator, stage designer, draughtsman, ceramicist and textile designer. His early work was influenced by Impressionism and Fauvism. Later he experimented with Cubism, developing his own style called “tubism”. After World War I in which he participated, he expanded his work with set designs, book illustration and films. In 1924, he opened his own school for art. His later work reflects his interest in machinery, speed and movement. At the onset of World War II, he left for the United States and returned to France in 1946. In the course of 1950s, he further expanded his work venturing into stained tapestry, pottery, stained glass and mosaics. His first solo exhibition took place in 1912 at the Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, France. He was awarded the Grand Prix at the 1955 Sao Paulo Bienal.
Joan Miró was a central figure to the 20th-century avant-garde. The Spanish artist’s innovative use of line, organic shapes, and color is seen to represent a major tenet of Surrealist art: to make work that liberates the creative potential of one’s unconscious mind. His playful imagery and linear markings bring out the fantastical in his abstract paintings. Also a sculptor and collagist, Miró’s influenced much of post-war art, including Abstract Expressionism and Robert Rauschenberg’s work. A move to Paris in 1920 brought the artist into Surrealist circles, befriending André Breton and working with Max Ernst, Jean Arp, and André Masson. Born Joan Miró i Ferrà on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Spain, the artist has had several major retrospectives since his first in 1941 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, before and after his death in Palm, Mallorca, Spain on December, 25, 1983 at the age of 90. He has been the recipient of the Venice Biennale Grand Prix in 1954 and was awarded the Spanish Gold Medal of Fine Arts in 1980. (from artnet)
Alexander Calder was born in Pennsylvania, son and grandson of American sculptors, and left his job as an engineer to become a sculptor himself. He was a prolific and playful artist, creating many mobiles. He also made stabiles (his non-kinetic sculptures), a large number of twisted wire miniature circus figures, and sets for theatre and ballets. He produced paintings, drawings, and jewellery. After being given a Masaya hammock in 1972, Calder commissioned some Nicaraguan weavers to make a host of new ones following eight of his own designs, along with a range of wall hangings. A collection of fourteen further hand-woven wool tapestries in limited editions then followed. The Whitney Museum of American Art has the largest body of work by Alexander Calder in any museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a view of works by three generations of Calders.
Victor Varsarely was born in Hungary and studied at the Podolini-Volkmann Academy and Sándor Bortnyik's műhely. He moved to Paris in 1930 where he worked as a graphic artist and began to produce art using optical illusions. He is widely regarded as the father of Op Art. Many of his works are geometric abstractions, using a minimum of colors and forms. He produced kinetic images, paintings, sculptures, and a series of serigraphs that were flown in space by the Salyut 7. In 1964 he won the Guggenheim Prize and in 1970 was awarded the French Chevalier de L'Ordre de la Légion d'honneur. There is one Vasarely Museum at his birthplace in Pécs, Hungary, and another in Zichy Palace in Budapest.
Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1949, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine illustration and advertising. Warhol was an early adopter of silk screen printmaking process as a technique for making paintings. His open use of market culture and bright colors made him a leading figure in pop art. Andy Warhol worked in various mediums, including painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, film, theatre, performance art and fashion.