Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol

November 21, 2014 – March 29, 2015

The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts is proud to present Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol, a groundbreaking exhibition with rare pieces, many never before seen on public display, from the masters of 20th century modern art.

Picasso to Warhol traces the history of 20th century art in textiles. Highlights include work by Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Sonia Delaunay, Raoul Dufy, Barbara Hepworth, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Ben Nicholson and Andy Warhol.

See Picasso to Warhol on WGBH Open Studio. 

The exhibition features examples of key European and American art movements: Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art; as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers.

With over 200 rare pieces, Picasso to Warhol reflects the effort of artists to make their work less elitist and more relevant to the lives of ordinary people. Not merely to be hung on a wall, these pieces were to be worn and walked upon and sat upon, from a Pablo Picasso dress and a Salvador Dalí tie to a Ben Nicholson rug and Saul Steinberg bed sheet.

This exhibition of recently discovered fashion and furnishing fabrics by artists highlights the quality of textiles as a medium for combining art and mass production. Visitors gain a rare and remarkable glimpse of how ordinary people were once able to directly engage in a personal and intimate way with high modern art through their everyday clothing and the furnishings of their homes.”

Read The Arts Fuse review of Picasso to Warhol.

Twentieth century art in textiles was truly “art for the masses,” bringing the high culture of art into the everyday lives of ordinary citizens – which is also an important part of the mission of the American Textile History Museum.

This major exhibition of works on fabric begins in the 1910s with designs by the Vorticist painter Wyndham Lewis and the artists of Bloomsbury’s Omega Workshops – Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Roger Fry – who wanted to change “the erroneous distinction between fine and applied art.” The Fauvist painter Raoul Dufy was the first 20th-century artist to become seriously and successfully involved in producing textile designs. His work influenced and encouraged many other artists and textile companies in Britain, on the Continent and in America.

Read the Picasso to Warhol review in Art New England.

After the war the movement to create “a masterpiece in every home” flowered with the involvement of leading contemporary artists, including John Piper, Salvador Dalí, and Ben Nicholson. Eventually, these art textiles were turned into commercial clothing, from a Joan Miró dress to a Salvador Dalí tie. By the 1960s, Picasso was allowing his pictures to be printed on almost any fabric, with the exception of upholstery. The sofa was a line he wouldn’t cross, as the curators note: “Picassos may be leaned against, not sat on.”


FTM LogoPicasso to Warhol was organized by the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.