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29 SEPTEMBER 2013

Handmade in Britain: The Story of Wallpaper

"In the second programme in the series, presenter Paul Martin reveals the secret history of wallpaper from the 17th century to the present day.

The film explores how wallpaper, seemingly so fragile and easy to replace, provides a vital index of changing tastes in the home. The programme shows how from its earliest days wallpaper imitated other, more costly wall coverings: from the 17th–century papers that were designed to look like embroidered textiles to 18th–century flocked wallpapers. The latter, intended as a cheaper substitute for costly damasks or velvets, became a triumph of British innovation, coming to grace the grandest of state apartments and country house interiors.

Focussing on how wallpaper was actually made, the programme goes onto explore how it became one of the battlefields in discussions about design in the 19th century. For, although technological innovations in machine printing had allowed manufacturers to print elaborate designs with complex colour–ways, some commentators were shocked by the poor aesthetic quality of British wallpapers. The programme looks at how designers and reformers attempted to take the situation in hand: from 'The False Principles of Design', an exhibition organised by Sir Henry Cole, the first Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which sought to instruct the British public in good and bad design; to the pioneering work of Augustus Pugin and William Morris.

Finally, the film traces the fortunes of wallpaper in the 20th century. Patterned walls faced stiff competition from the purity of plain, painted or whitewashed walls, as advocated by modernists like Le Corbusier. However, new techniques, like screen–printing, allowed shorter runs of innovate wallpapers, which were aimed at architects and interior designers. And, as Paul Martin discovers, wallpaper is still flourishing at the beginning of the 21st century. A combination of digital printing, screen–printing and hand–printing allows companies, like Timorous Beasties, to produce exciting new designs.

Presented by Paul Martin, contributors include Christine Woods, Anthony Wells–Cole, Martha Armitage, Allyson McDermott and Paul Simmons (Timorous Beasties), as well as V&A experts."

First broadcast on 25 September 2013 on BBC Four as part of the Handmade in Britain series [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bm1rg].

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TAGS

16th century17th century18th century19th century20th century21st century • Allyson McDermott • Anthony Wells-Cole • antiqueart and craftsArts and Crafts Movement • Augustus Pugin • bad design • BBC Four • changing tastes • Christine Woods • colourways • damask • deluxe item • design craftdigital printingdomestic material object • elaborate designs • embroidered textiles • flock wallpaper • good design • hand-printing • Handmade in Britain (series) • Henry Cole • industrial grime • interior design • interior designer • interior stylingLe Corbusierluxury • machine printing • makersmanufacturing technology • Marthe Armitage • Palladio Wallpapers • pattern • Paul Martin • Paul Simmons • poisonprinting processscreenprinting • stately homes • technological innovation • The False Principles of Design • Timorous Beasties • two-up-two-down • velvetVictoria and Albert Museum • wall coverings • wallpaperwallpaper design • wallpapering • William Morris

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 JANUARY 2013

Anemic Cinema (1926) by Marcel Duchamp

"This characteristically dada film by Marcel Duchamp consists of a series of visual and verbal puns with nonsense phrases inscribed around rotating spiral patterns, creating an almost hypnotic effect. Silent.

Anemic Cinema (various versions were made in 1920, 1923 and, finally, in 1926). Essentially a film by Duchamp with help from Man Ray. Calvin Tomkins: 'Duchamp used the initial payment on his inheritance to make a film and to go into the art business. The film, shot in Man Ray's studio with the help of cinematographer Marc Allégret, was a seven–minute animation of nine punning phrases by Rrose Sélavy. These had been pasted, letter by letter, in a spiral pattern on round black discs that were then glued to phonograph records; the slowly revolving texts alternate with shots of Duchamp's Discs Bearing Spirals, ten abstract designs whose turning makes them appear to move backward and forward in an erotic rhythm. The little film, which Duchamp called Anemic Cinema, had its premiere that August at a private screening room in Paris.'"

(UbuWeb)

Marcel Duchamp (1926). "Anémic Cinéma", 7 minutes, B&W.

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TAGS

1926 • Anemic Cinema • art historyavant-garde cinema • Calvin Tomkins • circle • concentric cirles • Dadadada filmdiscs • disk • erotic rhythm • gyrating • hypnotic effectMan Ray • Marc Allegret • Marcel Duchampmovement • nonsense phrase • op artoptical artoptical effectoptical illusionpatternperceptual phenomenonphonograph • phonograph turntable • pulsating alternation • revolving • rhythm • rotary demisphere • rotating spiral patterns • rotation • Rotoreliefs • Rrose Selavy • spinning • spiral • spiral pattern • spiraling • stereo-kinetic effect • surrealist cinematurntableUbuWebvelvet • verbal pun • visual experience

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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