Nomadic Murals: Contemporary Tapestries and Carpets

Apr. 24–Oct. 21, 2018
Boca Raton Museum of Art

Nomadic Murals is an exhibition of tapestries by contemporary artists such as Aziz & Cucher, Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero, William Kentridge, Fred Tomaselli, and Kehinde Wiley, among others. The works in the show are conceived and executed as tapestries and not copies of works that already exist in painting or other media. These groundbreaking artists worked with experts in the field to create these colorful, magnificent, and monumental artworks. Some of the works in the exhibition were produced in collaboration with artisans at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California, using the Jacquard weaving process first used in 1801; a kind of proto-computer punch card system that when used with the latest technology, produces precise and luscious color and texture. Works from other international studios are also included.

The tapestry medium is ancient. It was used in Pharaonic Egypt, mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, and some scholars believe that tapestries covered the interior walls of the Parthenon. Over the years the popularity of tapestries has waxed and waned. From the 14th century tapestries were the most coveted artworks and collected by kings and nobles. Because they covered enormous spans of wall space, absorbed the sound in cavernous castles, retained heat, and were easily transportable between aristocratic residences, tapestries were considered more valuable than paintings and sculptures. The exhibition’s title refers to that portability. The phrase “nomadic mural” is borrowed from an essay about tapestry by the modernist architect Le Corbusier.

Throughout the centuries important artists such as Rubens and Raphael were famous for their tapestries, and in the 20th century artists including Picasso, Braque, Leger, and Miro embraced the medium. Today, artists have increasingly incorporated tapestry into their oeuvre no matter the medium for which they are known.

Nomadic Murals is made possible by the Museum’s Leadership Fund with major support generously provided by the Estate of Ardele L. Garrod, Jody H. & Martin Grass, Dalia & Duane Stiller, Angela & John DesPrez III, Patricia Savides, Steinberg Global Asset Management, Ltd., the Museum’s Friends Auxiliary, and those who wish to remain anonymous.

Additional support for the exhibition is generously provided by Terry & Sheldon Adelman, Peg Anderson, Jennifer & Marc Bell, Deon Bezaguet & Claude Prozinski, Marleen & Martin Brody, Charlotte & Norman Codo, Beth & J. Jefferson Davis, Bonnie Eletz, Leslie & Scott Farber, the George & Frances Armour Foundation, Lois Lehrman Grass, Darrell Jacob & Rick Owen, the Laurence W. Levine Foundation, Åsa & Per-Olof Lööf, Paola Luptak & Markus Jakobson, Karen Mashkin, Jo Anne Rioli Moeller, Patricia & Nick Ohnell, Stacey & Evan Packer, Florence Paley, Linda Heinze Sandelman, the Schmidt Family Foundation, Janet & Brian Sherr, Wilma Bulkin Siegel, and the TOLEO Foundation.

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Harbor by Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith, Harbor, 2015, Jacquard tapestry. Courtesy of Magnolia Editions, Oakland, CA.

Havana from Mask Series by Alexandre Arrechea

Alexandre Arrechea, Mask SeriesHavana, 2016, Jacquard tapestry. Courtesy of Magnolia Editions, Oakland, CA.

Nomadic Murals: Contemporary Tapestries and Carpets

Photo: Jacek Gancarz

Nomadic Murals: Contemporary Tapestries and Carpets

Photo: Jacek Gancarz