Style Court

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



New to Aleta online is Brigitte Singh's hand-blocked Cream Chrysanthemum Variation 2.

In this mellow, earthy colorway, I can't stop imagining the fabric used for curtains flanking a row of windows in a light-filled, 70s-era, Carole King-esque Laurel Canyon house.

This summer I've been discovering her music -- and her old album covers. Over at this sight, I stumbled across a review that describes the iconic image on Tapestry as "unapologetically domestic." Two thoughts ran through my mind: (A) That would've been a great blog name or online alias; (B) If I ever audit the Women in Rock course, or any class on 20th-century music, I've got a paper topic. Jim McCrary's photo has multiple layers to analyze.

At the moment, I'm juggling work deadlines so for now let's just think about window seats and the possibilities of Singh's new collection.


Pattern Play

[Detail images via Sarajo]

Feathers of birds and scales of fish are all stylized into red and white stripes on this early-20th-century mola by the Kuna women of Panama.

A graphic appliquéd piece (17" x 19") available through Sarajo, it seems like a great candidate to frame and hang. Up close, it kind of feels like some of Bridget Riley's monochromatic Op Art works that came decades later, right?

To see multi-colored molas, visit the Hood Museum. On a loosely related note, across the pond, London's Fashion and Textile Museum has on view Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion. The exhibition is said to be the first ever devoted to the shawls favored by Frida Kahlo.


Drawn In: Kelly at the High

Instagram isn't the only place to get a peony fix.

The High recently acquired Ellsworth Kelly's  Peony, a graphite work on paper from 1979 that was seen in The Met's big 2012 show. Described by Kelly as a "plant portrait," this spare drawing will go on view in Atlanta June 28 as part of the new exhibition Top Drawer: Select Drawings from the High’s Collection, along with pieces by Jasper Johns, Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Thornton Dial, Eva Hesse, Brice Marden, John Marin and more. There you'll really be able to appreciate Kelly's skillful use of line. Learn more here.


Textile Scout™

[Unless credited otherwise, all photography courtesy Zak + Fox. Above, Khaden in Himalaya.]

I want to re-watch Kundun or Seven Years in Tibet. In the past when I've seen these movies, I've been preoccupied with the colorful stripes but now, thanks to the release of Zak + Fox's printed linen, Khaden, a design inspired by historic dyed wool and cotton Tibetan "tiger rugs," I think I need to check out what the films' set decorators did with the floors.     

[Khaden in Bengal]

Traditionally, woven Tibetan carpets incorporate tigers' stripes as a motif. A few years ago there was a show at The Met, Rugs and Ritual in Tibetan Buddhism, with some terrific older examples that convey how the stripes were abstracted into graphic patterns. Although, those tantric rugs were still somewhat representational, outlining the wild animal's head and paws. In contrast, Zak + Fox's riff is solely about pattern: wavy, painterly looking stripes set off by a layered six-inch border running down both sides of the fabric. (Are you imagining it on an ottoman, too?)

You can find the new print at Hollywood at Home or at the Zak + Fox NYC showroom.

Harder to track down is the lavish new tome devoted to Karun Thakar's collection of Indian textiles. Featuring essays by the V & A's Rosemary Crill and The Met's John Guy, the book is currently backordered at Powell's as well as the major online emporiums, but worth waiting for. More on this title when I get my hands on an actual copy.


Throwback Thursday

[Photography by Susan Sully © Houses with Charm: Simple Southern Style, Rizzoli New York, 2013.]

I've probably picked up the habit of applying the "iconic" label a bit too liberally, but when MoMA's director, Glenn Lowry, uses the adjective to describe The Swimming Pool, one of his Museum's most treasured works by Matisse, I think the word truly fits. Thanks to MoMA's major conservation project, the epic (again, Lowry's word) fifty-four-foot-long blue-and-white paper frieze made in 1952 is now a highlight of the current exhibition, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.

When Matisse created The Swimming Pool, it blurred boundaries in more ways than one: it straddled lines between fine art and decoration, and between sculpture and painting, writes Lowry, and its subjects -- the graceful figures in the water -- splashed out beyond the white horizontal band and onto Matisse's burlap-covered dining room walls.

More than half a century later, the frieze still inspires: Today I'm looking back at designer Amelia Handegan's use of a Matisse-inspired mural. Pictured above is the painting she commissioned from Kristin Bunting for a Sullivan's Island dining room.


Under Mexican Skies

[Hand-embroidered Maggie Galton Chipas pillow speaks to Mexico's heritage.]

Last year, thanks to the High's major exhibition, Frida & Diego, and the show's requisite pop-up gift shop, Mexican textiles and other handcrafted objects had the spotlight here in Atlanta. Some of the wares were from art historian turned designer / product developer Maggie Galton. (Currently you can find her things along with other makers' textiles at the much-buzzed-about JM Drygoods.)

[Oaxacan striped throw is from JM Drygoods.]

For me, seeing the intricate patterns and bold colors in person sparked a new design crush that hasn't really waned. So, I'm happy to report that another exhibition of Mexican works, Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Moon: Wixárika Arts of Modern West Mexico, is on view this summer at Emory University's Carlos Museum. This show focuses on beadwork (think bowls and masks) and yarn paintings.

[Sakma Hayek in Miramax's Frida, 2002.] 

Related past posts:
Revisiting Frida