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Article

Courtney Ann Shaw

(b Fort Plain, NY, Oct 27, 1925; d San Francisco, 2006).

American tapestry artist, painter and stained-glass designer. Adams studied painting at Syracuse University and with Hans Hoffmann in New York, where he was influenced by the medieval tapestries in the Cloisters and also by the work of Matisse. In the 1950s Adams was apprenticed to the influential French tapestry designer Jean Lurçat, from whom he learnt the bold colours and clear imagery that characterize his work. He also studied at the Ecole Nationale d’Art Décoratif in Aubusson before beginning to use a series of workshops, notably that of Marguerite and Paul Avignon, who wove his first nationally acclaimed tapestry, Phoenix and the Golden Gate (1957). Flight of Angels (1962) was exhibited at the first Biennale Internationale de la Tapisserie in Lausanne. In 1976 his cartoon of California Poppies (San Francisco, CA Pal. Legion of Honor) was woven for the Five Centuries of Tapestry exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, as a demonstration piece. Later tapestries, for example ...

Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

Adrian  

Ann Poulson

(Gilbert) [Greenburg, Adrian Adolph]

(b Naugatuck, CT, March 3, 1903; d Los Angeles, CA, Sept 13, 1959).

American costume and fashion designer. Adrian is best known for his costume designs for Hollywood films and his signature women’s suits (see fig.). Adrian was educated at the School for Fine and Applied Arts (now Parsons School of Design) in New York and Paris. He began his career in New York by designing costumes for Irving Berlin’s Music Box Revue of 1921. It was through his work on Broadway that he met the costume designer Natacha Rambova, wife of the screen idol Rudolph Valentino, and began designing costumes for films. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1924 and by 1926 was working for the director Cecil B. DeMille, who brought him to Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) in 1928. When his contract with DeMille ended, Adrian signed with MGM, where he would remain as head costume designer until 1942. At MGM, Adrian dressed stars such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Norma Shearer and Jeanette McDonald. Although it was his designs for Garbo, in which he was careful not to distract from her natural beauty, that first brought him fame, it was his creations for Joan Crawford that made him a household name....

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Joan Marter

(b Atlanta, GA, March 16, 1938).

African American painter, printmaker, and weaver. Amos studied fine arts and textile weaving at Antioch College at Yellow Springs, OH, where she received her BFA in 1958. She went on to study etching and painting at the Central School of Art, London (1958–9), and the following year she moved to New York, where she began working at two printmaking studios: Robert Blackburn’s workshop and that of Letterio Calapai (an outpost of Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17). She completed her MA at New York University (NYU) in 1966. Through Hale Woodruff, an art professor at NYU and family friend, she was invited to exhibit with Spiral, an all-male art group founded by Woodruff and Romare Bearden and featuring recognized African American artists. Spiral, closely allied with the Civil Rights movement, dissolved in 1967 and subsequently Amos had trouble exhibiting her work. In 1974, after the birth of her two children, Amos found a position as an instructor in textile design at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts. She continued her own weaving in New York and benefited from the revival of interest in women’s traditional art forms in the early years of the feminist art movement....

Article

American, 20th–21st century, female.

Active in Los Angeles.

Born 1967, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Photographer, textile artist (knit), zine writer, publisher. Sociopolitical themes.

Lisa Anne Auerbach graduated with a BFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York in 1990 and went on to receive her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in 1994.

Upon completing her studies and losing access to a darkroom, Auerbach began knitting as an inexpensive and expressive medium. After attending a Cheap Trick concert she became envious of guitarist Rick Nielsen’s custom statement sweaters and decided she needed to make her own. This launched Auerbach’s career as a textile artist and she began making sweater-skirt combinations with sociopolitical statements across the front and back such as ‘When there is nothing left to burn / Set yourself on fire,’ ‘What’s all this talk of dying for revolution? / You have to live for it,’ and ‘My Jewish grandma is voting for Obama, is yours? / Chosen People Choose Obama.’...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b 1845; d 1908).

American interior decorator and founder of the first tapestry factory in the USA. He worked for Herter Brothers (see Herter, Christian) on the decoration of a series of grand houses, notably William H. Vanderbilt’s house on Fifth Avenue, New York, and William Welsh Harrison’s Grey Towers Castle (now part of Arcadia University) in Philadelphia. When the Vanderbilt house was completed in 1882, Christian Herter returned to Germany and Baumgarten took over the company. In 1891 he started his own company, William Baumgarten and Company, Inc., and in 1893 complemented his interior decoration business with a tapestry factory in his Fifth Avenue premises. He recruited weavers and dyers from the Royal Windsor Tapestry Manufactory (which had closed in 1890), including five weavers from the Foussadier family. The factory’s tapestries include one at Grey Towers (1898).

A Short Résumé of the History of Tapestry Making in the Past and Present...

Article

Melissa Marra

(b Haynesville, LA, Aug 30, 1927; d New York, Sept 28, 2004).

American fashion designer. A modernist, Beene’s inventive geometric cuts and in-depth understanding of the human body made him one of the most innovative designers of the 20th century.

In deference to a family tradition, Beene enrolled as a pre-med student at Tulane University in 1943, despite his childhood penchant for fashion. While at Tulane, Beene was notoriously caught sketching the gowns designed by Hollywood costumer Adrian in his anatomy book. Three years later, he withdrew from Tulane University and moved to Los Angeles, where he became employed in the display department of the store I. Magnin. In 1947, he moved to New York to study at the Traphagen School of Fashion, but having concluded that the focus of postwar fashion had shifted to France, Beene transferred to Paris’s Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne the following year. During his two years at that institution, he also studied life drawing at Académie Julian, and in the evenings was apprenticed to a master tailor for the ...

Article

Kristen Shirts

(Ralph) [William]

(b Fort Wayne, IN, June 22, 1922; d New York, June 12, 2002,.

American fashion designer. Blass is known for his ready-to-wear apparel and sportswear. He cultivated a high-society personal image to complement his upper-class clientele and is often credited with promoting a distinctly American look that incorporated simplicity, practicality and casual luxury. He is also known for his shrewd business practices, including product licensing and making personal appearances at ‘trunk shows’ across the country.

Blass was the only son of a hardware salesman and a dressmaker. The modesty of his life in the Midwest during the Depression, particularly after his father’s suicide when Blass was five, made him determined to get away from small-town America. As a child, he sketched Manhattan society women in penthouse apartments and, before he entered high school, he began selling sketches of evening dresses to New York clothing manufacturer Kalmour. After high school, he moved to New York and took a job as a sketch artist at David Crystal, a sportswear firm, while attending fashion design classes. He soon enlisted in the US Army and spent the years from ...

Article

Kirsta Willis

(b Newark, NJ, Sept 15, 1943).

African-American fashion designer. Burrows’s trademarks included colour blocking, asymmetry, fluid jersey separates and fluted ‘lettuce’ hems. With a youthful nonchalance and anti-establishment sensibility, Burrows clothes defined the movement and the eclecticism of New York City’s nightlife in the 1970s.

Burrows’s love affair with colour stemmed from his mother, who taught him to draw using the entire box of crayons, while from his seamstress grandmother, he learned how to sew. However, Burrows never contemplated a career in fashion until he attended the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. After graduating from Newark’s Arts High School, Burrows set out for Philadelphia, intent on becoming an art teacher. However, spurred on by a fashion exhibition he viewed, Burrows left the arts college in his second year, working briefly in the display department of Bamberger’s department store before enrolling in Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology. He graduated in 1966 and landed his first job with Weber Originals where he spent a particularly boring year designing ladies’ blouses. Burrows took his restless creativity back to New Jersey and began freelancing, mainly making clothing for his friends....