Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Spinning in Denver

[Detail: Unknown Navajo Artist, Poncho, circa 1850. Wool and dye. Denver Art Museum; Funds from Exeter Co., accumulated memorial funds, acquisition challenge grant and a partial gift of Robert S. Gast, Jr.]

Get ready to see the Denver Art Museum's myriad textiles -- post-war British furnishing fabrics, old indigo Japanese resist-dyed pieces, Navajo blankets, Qing Dynasty holdings and American quilts -- in a whole new light. DAM's textile art gallery has more than quadrupled in size and on May 19 the doors will open to nearly 7,000 square feet of exhibition and studio space. In celebration of this, curators have organized multiple shows as part of a campus-wide happening, Spun: Adventures in Textiles, which will run through September 22, 2013.

Fans of the Navajo aesthetic will want to check out Red, White & Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840-1870. Focusing on the most graphic period, the exhibition will include around 50 mid-19th-century blankets gathered from DAM'S permanent collection, private collectors and other institutions.

Learn about seven more concurrent shows here.


Anonymous said...

The date on the blanket shown on your blog is too early. Navajo blankets from 1850 are Ute Style, solid stripes completely across the width of the piece. There was no red. The stripes were natural white, natural brown and dyed blue fron indigo. The progression was then to second phase in which the stripes were interrupted and some red showed up from unraveled English woolens. For your interest.

Phase 1 --Pre-1850

"First Phase" or "Ute -style" blankets of the pre-1850 "Classic" Period were simple banded chief's blankets with broad horizontal bands of natural dark brown/black alternating with broad bands of creamy white churro sheep wool yarn, often with narrow or broad bands of indigo-blue dyed yarn and sometimes red bands obtained from ravelled yarn (the unravelled and re-twisted threads obtained from bolts of trade cloth, especially the cochineal insect red-dyed English baize trade cloth, known by the Spanish as bayetta.)

Phase 2 -- 1850-1860

Second phase chief's blankets of the "Late Classic" Period . Smaller design elements, often small rectangular elements were placed within one each of the top, middle and bottom horizontal bands , often in a twelve-position layout. The effect was that the new elements were being placed "on top of" the traditional Phase One motif, with the First Phase blanket now a "background".

Phase 3 -- 1860-1868

The new elements now expanded beyond the bands, and were laid out in a "nine -spot" design with three elements each across the top, middle and bottom of the old Phase One pattern. The new elements could be squares, rectangles or diamonds, and in some later interpretations --especially during the Transition Period-- became so large that the original Phase One pattern of bands can barely be discerned.

Style Court said...

Hi LQ --

This is the date and official credit line specified by DAM but I'll look into it.

Thanks for your interest,

Style Court said...

Not sure yet if "circa 1850" was used in museum's credit line to offer a very generalized mid-19th-century time frame. The Navajo poncho shown here does look like a cousin of Late Classic children's serapes I've seen, which I understand to be 1860s.

Style Court said...

Also, Nancy Blomberg, curator of the Navajo show, will talk about all the 19th century textiles on view May 29 from 6:00pm – 8:00 p.m.

Hope that helps!