Marie Cuttoli's Modernist Tapestries Dazzle at the Barnes Foundation
On a recent visit to Philadelphia, I stumbled into an amazing exhibition: “Marie Cuttoli: The Modern Thread from Miró to Man Ray,” at the Barnes Foundation.
Algerian-born French entrepreneur, Marie Cuttoli was an important patron of modernist textiles in the 1920s and 1930s building a series of businesses that combined fine art and fashion with the ancient craft and French national industry of tapestry weaving.
Cuttoli began by making high-fashion garments, and later moved to commissioning key modernist artists to design tapestries, produced mostly in Aubusson, a center of tapestry production since the 17th century.
During her frequent travels to Paris and the south of France, she assembled an extraordinary collection of avant-garde art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Léger, Raoul Dufy, Le Corbusier and George Braque.
Introducing her many artist friends, primarily painters, to the art of tapestry, she encouraged them to reimagine their work from small-scale easel paintings to large scale, mural-like graphic compositions.
This show, organized by Barnes associate curator Cindy Kang, brings together a dozen tapestries Cuttoli commissioned and sold, along with the cartoons or paintings on which they were based.