On 11 April 2015 an exhibition of Contemporary Danish Tapestries opened in the halls of the Winter Palace. It has been prepared by the State Hermitage jointly with the Danish Cultural Institute in St Petersburg and the Danish Tapestry organization with the support of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Denmark in St Petersburg.
Édouard Manet’s picture of 1863
Linen and paint
Paint on an open mended textile
Warp: cotton; weft: worsted wool
Tapestry weaving and the artist’s own technique
Warp: blue wool; weft: wool, linen and Japanese kasuri-yarn
Natural dyes by indigo, madder, cochineal and lichen, dyed by the artist
Tapestry weaving, tabby and twill
The exhibition of contemporary Danish tapestries illustrates in full measure the idea of Scandinavian design. The low-key, at first sight simple patterns of the works reveal themselves more fully on closer inspection, demonstrating a variety of woven textures and materials, both modern and traditional – European and Eastern.
The Danish Tapestry organization founded in 1994 unites twenty-three artistic weavers living in various parts of Denmark. The display features works by twenty-one members of the group and two invited artists.
Over the course of the twentieth century by dint of painstaking work Danish weavers have achieved independence in their art form and attained recognition for the significant role that they have played in the international fame of Danish design. At the beginning of the century collaboration between artist and craftsperson was exceptionally important. Later the weavers became their own designers and showed that they were capable of producing both very large-format works to decorate buildings and halls and designs of textiles for practical use in the home.
The tapestries featured in the exhibition are divided up thematically: “Antique Landscape”, “Constructivism”, “The World of Art”, “Handing on Tradition”, “Recollections”, “Nature–Culture” and “Light”.
Tapestry-weaving has been experiencing a difficult time in recent decades. Many traditional factories ceased production of wall hangings as far back as the 1980s, but in the cold countries – Scandinavia, the Baltic states and also St Petersburg – it endures to this day. Scandinavian designers created a new direction in applied art, the chief idea of which was the expressiveness of simple shapes, the beauty of natural materials and affordability.
The exhibition’s curator is Tatyana Nikolayevna Lekhovich, senior researcher in the State Hermitage’s Department of Western European Applied Art with a candidate degree in art studies.
An illustrated catalogue raisonné has been prepared for the exhibition (State Hermitage publishing house, 2015).
The exhibition Contemporary Danish Tapestries is accompanied by an extensive educational programme, including lectures by the curator, a master class in the exhibition halls and also a round-table colloquium dedicated to contemporary tapestry-weaving with experts from Denmark and Russia participating. Artistic weavers whose works feature in the Hermitage exhibition are to participate in the opening and the educational programme.