Tapestry making in Aubusson experienced major change in the 20th century and the term “tapestry revival” is frequently used. This revival was mainly attributed to the work of the artist Jean Lurçat during the 1930’s. However, this revival was based on the work of the Ecole Nationale d’Arts Décoratifs d’Aubusson and its director, Antoine Marius Martin. Antoine was appointed as director of the school after the First World War when the school fell into crisis. His educational model was based on subtle work, drawing on several shades of colour and requiring a long time to produce.
When the students arrived in the world of work, they were pressured to work faster as there was no time to employ these methods. Marius Martin encouraged a return to coarse-grained medieval tapestry with a restricted colour range, often limited to just 2 or 3 colours. Until then, work had been carried out with 10, 11 or 12 threads per cm. During the International Exposition of Decorative Arts held in Paris in 1925, he displayed pieces produced using just 4 threads. Frequently mixing with networks of post-impressionist artists, Antoine Marius Martin, along with artists adhering to fauvism, was to trigger a significant movement during the 20th century known as tapestry painting, which consists of the transposition onto textile of projects from fashionable artists, such as Braque, Vasarely, etc…
In the 1930s Marie Cutoli, an editor, continued this work, opening Aubusson tapestry up to a new client base in the United States. During this period an idea began to take shape at the Ecole National d’Art Décoratif – “this could be taken even further, that is, the work of art which serves as a support could be envisaged in textile or tapestry form at the moment of creation.” With this idea came the second key movement in tapestry during the 20th century, the rise of the painter-cartoon creator, the most famous being Jean Lurçat who arrived in Aubusson in 1937. He was followed by many others including Dom Robert, Michel Tourlière, creator of this piece behind me and a multitude of painter-cartoon creators still thriving today with artists such as Daniel Riberzani.
Tapestry development in the 20th century
Aubusson tapestry making experienced significant changes in the interwar period, at the instigation of the Ecole Nationale d’Art Décoratif d’Aubusson and a variety of artists. Follow the different stages of artisanal and artistic development, with Bruno Ythier, conservator at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Aubusson, as your guide.