Famous Woven Textile Designers

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Bold colors and geometric patterns. Some artists create patterns in textiles and have become famous for incorporating these elements into their weaving. In this lesson, learn about several famous woven textile designers.

What Are Woven Textiles?

Artists create in many ways with different media. Some work in fibers and textiles, using a process called weaving. Weaving is a fiber art process where a person interlaces two threads at right angles on equipment called a loom. Vertical threads are called the warp, and horizontal threads are called the weft. Together they create a tight linear criss-cross of threads used to make things like fabric and textiles. By changing how the warp and the weft interlace, different weaves or patterns are created. Looms can be small, hand-held objects, or they can be large industrial pieces of machinery.

Famous Woven Textile Designers

Weaving is an ancient craft, used by people for thousands of years to make utilitarian things like clothing and rugs. But some artists also use weaving to create works of art. Let's learn more about several famous woven textile designers. Textile designers, by the way, are artists who create the look and feel of textiles.

Gunta Stölzl

Gunta Stölzl (1897 - 1983) was a German-born artist and weaver. She helped establish the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus, an important German art and design school. Stölzl had earlier studied at the Bauhaus, and she used what she learned in her work. She introduced new ideas into weaving like elements of color theory, which is a set of principles that helps artists create visually pleasing color combinations. She also used abstraction. The term abstraction refers to imagery that looks like nothing in the real world. Stölzl was influenced by several of her teachers, including abstract painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

Weaving by Gunta Stolzl
Stolzl weaving

Stölzl used the linear nature of the weaving process to her advantage, emphasizing geometry. She experimented with materials and techniques, and collaborated on furniture designs.

Anni Albers

German artist Anni Albers (1899 - 1994) wanted to study glass blowing, but was channeled into the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus because of her gender. She made the most of it, becoming known for her dynamic, colorful weavings.

Albers experimented with the structure of woven works. Like Stölzl, she introduced elements of abstraction, also influenced by the work of Paul Klee. Albers also pioneered the use of synthetic materials like artificial silk and cellophane.

Portrait of Anni Albers
Anni Albers

Her works were full of undulating lines, bold colors and striking geometric forms. She combined hand-weaving techniques (done on small, handheld looms) with work done on larger floor-looms. Later in her life, her work was influenced by weaving patterns of Andean cultures from South America. Albers sometimes called the tapestries she made 'pictorial weaving'.

Hannah Ryggen

Weaver Hannah Ryggen (1894 - 1970) was born in Sweden but spent her whole artistic career in Norway. Originally a teacher, she apprenticed to a painter before switching to weaving. Working on a large stand-up loom made by her husband, Ryggen made mostly tapestries, large woven wall-hangings. In them, she commented on politics and world events, including the rise of fascism and the Nazi occupation of Norway.

People sitting in front of a large tapestry by Hannah Ryggen
Hannah Ryggen work

Her works featured bold colors and stark human figures, evil and innocent portrayed in a striking someone geometric style. Her works were narrative, but also symbolic. Ryggen spun and dyed the threads she used in her weaving, creating the dyes from native Norwegian plants.

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