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Taking a Thread for a Walk

Opened October 21, 2019

The Museum of Modern Art

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Taking a Thread for a Walk, located in The Philip Johnson Galleries on the Museum’s third floor, looks at how successive generations developed new material and constructive languages from the 1890s through the 1970s, highlighting the flexibility of textiles, a medium that continues to defy easy categorization. The installation “takes a thread for a walk” among ancient textile traditions, early 20th-century design reform movements, adventurous combinations of natural and new synthetic fibers in industrial production, through to the emergence of a more sculptural approach to textile art in the 1960s and ’70s. Textiles and the adjacent practices of architecture, painting, drawing, and sculpture have long had a close affinity, especially in the 20th century, when there was a concerted move to emphasize the underlying unity of all art forms and to connect modern art with industry and daily life. Woven artifacts appeared at the forefront of ongoing debates around abstraction, the total work of art, and the fusion of art with technology, challenging the widespread marginalization of textiles as “women’s work.”

Many of the pioneers in this narrative have been women, chief among them Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Florence Knoll, and Sheila Hicks. Also featured will be recent acquisitions by Monika Correa (India), Aurèlia Muñoz (Catalonia), and the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, making clear the medium’s global relevance.

Organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, and Andrew Gardner, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

The exhibition is made possible by Allianz, MoMA’s partner for design and innovation.

Major support is provided by The Modern Women’s Fund and The Coby Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, Eva and Glenn Dubin, The Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, Alice and Tom Tisch, The David Rockefeller Council, The Contemporary Arts Council, Anne Dias, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, The Keith Haring Foundation, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro.

Major contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund are provided by the Estate of Ralph L. Riehle, GRoW @ Annenberg, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, Karen and Gary Winnick, The Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Clarissa Alcock and Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Agnes Gund, and Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

Images

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Magdalena Abakanowicz. Yellow Abakan. 1967-1968. Sisal, 124 x 120 x 60″ (315 x 304.8 x 152.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. Walter Bareiss, Mrs. Watson K. B. © 2020 Magdalena Abakanowicz

Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly