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11 JULY 2012

Maurizio Anzeri: embroidered patterns on found vintage photographs

"Maurizio Anzeri makes his portraits by sewing directly into found vintage photographs. His embroidered patterns garnish the figures like elaborate costumes, but also suggest a psychological aura, as if revealing the person's thoughts or feelings. The antique appearance of the photographs is often at odds with the sharp lines and silky shimmer of the threads. The combined media gives the effect of a dimension where history and future converge. The image used in Round Midnight is an early 20th century 'glamour shot' that at the time would have been considered titillating for both the girl's nudity and ethnicity. Anzeri's delicately stitched veil recasts the figure with an uncomfortable modesty, overlaying a past generation's cross–cultural anxieties with an allusion to our own.

'I've been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle–like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will–the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.'

'There's a dynamic in what happens between the photograph, the embroidery on top, and you standing in front looking at it. I try never to completely cover a face, you can always still see the face underneath. There are no rules other than I always leave one or both eyes open. Nothing is bigger in my head than a face, it's the best landscape we can look at. It's all to do with the centre, the body. Like a costume or other identity, my work reveals something that is behind the face that suddenly becomes in front. It's like a mask–not a mask you put on, but something that grows out of you. It's what the photo is telling you and what you want to read in the photos. I get my ideas from many different sources: it could be theatre, or someone dressed up on the tube, a tribe in Papua New Guinea, or Versace. It's never one specific thing.'

'Photographs from the 40s and 50s have a totally different quality from photos we're used to today. We don't recognise them as photographs now, they really look like watercolours or drawings. The images I use are anonymous, I find them everywhere; I'm really into flea markets and car boot sales, when you enter you have no idea what you're going to encounter. In everything I see there is something I am interested in, but I try to look at them as plain canvas. Art history is very important to me, it's all been done before but it's never been done by you: if you don't look into the past there is no chance to go into the future. The surrealist movement is important to my work, but I don't become obsessed by it, it's not dictating rules. I understand history in a formal respect, and think of past artists like travelling companions–making work is like going for a walk with them. At the end of the day it's about humanity.'"

(Saatchi Gallery)

Fig.1 Maurizio Anzeri, "Rita", 2011, Embroidery on photograph, 23.5 x 17.5 cm.

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TAGS

antique • antique appearance • art history • car boot sales • costumecraft nostalgia • cross-cultural anxieties • design craftdesign revisionism • elaborate costumes • embroidered patternsembroidery • embroidery on photograph • facefigures • flea markets • foundfound imagesgeometryglamour shot • hand stitching • inner thoughts • making art with recycled materialsmask • Maurizio Anzeri • modesty • needle • nostalgia • old photographs • overlaying • photographportrait • psychological aura • Saatchi Gallerysewing • sharp lines • silky shimmer • stitchedstitching • surrealist movement • textile arts • threads • travelling companions • veiledvintage

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
10 OCTOBER 2009

Mainstreaming sustainable fashion

"4,5 Katharine Hamnett in a video interview explained how in the late 1980s she had been prompted to check, to make sure the company were not doing any harm. That meant looking at the entire supply chain to make sure that every phase was as good as possible. They had to apply very stringent standards from the very beginning. It started with the farmers given the millions involved in cotton agriculture who are exposed to pesticides, on a daily basis. It lead to focus on organic cotton but regrettably not using silk and considering all the packaging, dyes and printing inks. She has used certification, traceability and accountability, right the way through the supply chain but found taking complete control of this complex supply chain was the only way to enable this. She believed that the most effective to target were the CEO's, of clothing companies and fashion retailers. Mainstreaming sustainable fashion was happening because large retailers were realising that it was increasingly what consumers wanted: products that don't do damage to the environment, or that use child or sweated labour. Retailers ignored this at their peril. Sustainable clothing had to be sophisticated, glamorous and the bottom line was always economic. Sustainable clothing did not have to be more expensive. It could and should be affordable. She though that the ETI labour code should be compulsory and governments should act to have country of origin labelling for fibres."

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TAGS

art for housewives • art of recyclingbelongingblogbricolagechangecommoditycommunityconsumptioncraft • crochet • Cynthia Korzekwa • design intelligencedesign responsibility • domestic arts • dyeecologyembroideryemotive manipulationengagementenvironmentenvironmentalethicsfashion • fiber arts • folk arthomemadejewelleryjunk art • Katharine Hamnett • knittingmaking art with recycled materialsobsolescenceorganicpaperpesticideproductionprotest • reconstructed fashion • recyclerecyclingremakereusesocial changesocietysustainabilitytextile artstransformation • trashion • urban crafts • waste

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 MAY 2009

The Photomontages of Hannah Höch

"The 'bob–haired muse', the 'holy shears' and 'Dada's good girl' are a few of the epitaphs that prevail in the comfortable little niche art history has carved out for Hannah Höch. These sound bites are seriously challenged by this travelling retrospective organised by the Walker Art Center. 'The Photomontages of Hannah Höch' momentously reconstructs her marginalised role in early 20th–century art and perhaps even ordains her as the single most influential female artist of the century. The exhibition surveying Höch's 55 years of photomontage not only rescues her from the anti–art antics of the legendary Berlin Dada circle but inclusively chronicles her private and aesthetic journey through the social and cultural constructs that have emerged in the 20th century. While she may have been remembered by her bombastic Dada colleagues for her 'sandwiches, beer and coffee', her lifetime of artistic practice reveals a vital and critical woman who could magically collide disparate reproductions of needlepoint patterns, political figures, film stars, animal life and non–Western artefacts into explorations of androgyny, Aryan activity, gender roles, imperialism, race and lesbianism."

(Michelle Grabner, Issue 33 March–April 1997, Frieze Magazine)

Fig.1 Hannah Höch "Entwurf für das Denkmal eines bedeutenden Spitzenhemdes", 1922, Entwurf, Tafelmalerei, Collage, 27,4 x 17 cm, Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Ikonographie (Iconclass)

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TAGS

1920s • abstract collage • aesthetic journey • androgyny • anti-art posture • anti-composition • artartistartistic practiceBauhaus School • Berlin Dada • collagecoloured papercultural constructs • cut-and-sew lines • cut-outDadadecorationdecorative arts • decorative beauty • decorative sewingdesign formalismearly 20th centuryembroideryembroidery design • erotic photomontage • female activity • female artist • female features • female leisure • feminist artist • film starformal elementsFrieze (magazine)gender rolesgenetic engineering • good girl • handicraftHannah Hoch • hausfrau • homosexualityillustrative styleimperialism • kitchen knife • manipulative propaganda • marginalisation • mens work • modern womanmodernist tradition • needlepoint patterns • New Weimer Woman • non-Western artefacts • photomontage • pictorially ordered • political satirequeernessretrospective exhibitionRussian constructivismsewing and craftsocial construction • social constructs • traditional crafts • tulle netting • tulle patterns • typography • vital and critical • Walker Art CenterWeimar Republicwomanwomen artistswomen in art and design • womens activities

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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