massive new museum, which opened in 2012 on the site of a former power plant, proved the ideal venue for this show of textile art: both inspired one to contemplate the wonders of excess. Curated by Gong Yan and Anne Dressen, the exhibition, expanding on a version that opened in Paris last year, set historical objects in conversation with modern works by designers, architects, and contemporary art stars including Mike Kelley and Grayson Perry.
Sculptural forms made of linen, wool, acrylic, and cotton, by artists such as Aniwar Mamat, Jagoda Buić, and Olga de Amaral, dangled from the soaring ceilings of the upstairs lobby. Nearby, Franz West’s installation used dozens of couches covered with rugs on which visitors were invited to sit. “Decorum” seemed an ironic title given that works such as these were more often rich and raucous. Chen Tianzhuo’s vulgar, woven South Park scene stood out, as did the work of artists not often associated with tapestry, such as Miró and Kandinsky. The exhibition would have benefited from some editing in places, as when Martin Margiela shoes gave way to fragments of Coptic textiles, overshadowing more coherent moments like the transition from Shanghai Art Deco fabrics to Maoist propaganda scenes. And yet, the medium’s ability to seduce still seemed well served by a show as extravagant as the works in it.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 111.