The American Museum in Britain announces 2017 exhibitions
American cultural shockwaves explored in 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs; Joyce Petschek: Breaking the Pattern showcases ground-breaking craftsmanship
1920s Jazz Age: Fashion & Photographs (18 March – 29 October 2017)
America in the 1920s created a cultural shockwave that reverberated around the world, creating icons on an industrial scale— from stars of the silver screen to skyscrapers.
This worldwide phenomenon will be explored in 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs, which examines how the world saw— and sees— the US as a global taste-maker and trend setter.
It is especially fitting that an exhibition celebrating the Roaring Twenties is ‘coming home’ to the American Museum in Britain – particularly at a time when the spotlight of the world is firmly on the US once again as it undergoes another shockwave with the election of Donald Trump.
The period after the Great War created a seismic shift in moral, social, and cultural attitudes. Emancipation combined with burgeoning affluence offered women the chance to adopt a completely new way of dressing, from sports to evening wear. A decade of change is documented through the shifting hemlines and waistlines of the era’s fashions.
The exhibition will also include the work of photographer James Abbe, whose portraits present a candid commentary on early twentieth-century celebrity.
From Hollywood to the Folies Bergère, Abbe documented the world of entertainment and created the modern-day concept of celebrity through his portraits of stage and screen stars such as Gilda Gray, the Dolly Sisters, and Louise Brooks. The exhibition will also include illustrations by Gordon Conway to show visitors how graphic art and photography promoted the ‘Jazz Age’ look.
The American Museum is particularly delighted to display the work of James Abbe. Many of his sitters had personal connections with Beatrice Pratt, the mother of one the Museum’s founders. Her role as fashionista during the first half of the early twentieth century will demonstrate the impact the 1920s had on fashion and the social scene.
1920s Jazz Age: Fashion & Photographs is organised by The Fashion and Textile Museum and is accompanied by works from James Abbe: Photographer of the Jazz Age.
Joyce Petschek: Breaking the Pattern (18 March – 29 October 2017)
American Joyce Petschek has been passionate about Bargello needlework for much of her life. Instead, however, of trying to preserve the history of this tradition within its rigid confines, she is ‘Breaking the Pattern’ and reinventing the genre.
Bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs. The name originates from a series of seventeenth-century chairs found in the Bargello Palace in Florence that have a ‘flame stitch’ pattern.
Joyce Petschek: Breaking the Pattern represents a unique opportunity to see Joyce’s exquisite textile art curated in a complete exhibition for the first time in Britain.
Having ‘broken the pattern’, Joyce— who now lives in Tuscany and London— hand stitches her designs primarily in silk threads to create works of intensely rich and luminous colour.
Using her intuition to create each new design, Joyce begins stitching without any preliminary sketch of the pattern itself. She often works on several pieces at a time, selecting her silk threads first and then stitching onto the canvas, always following her intuitive inspiration. This means that a new work can take from a few months to a year to complete.
In addition to unique wall textiles, Petschek has a special interest in reworking antique furniture, combining her designs with striking fabrics to give each piece an exceptional ‘out of time’ appearance.
Long renowned for its textile collection, the American Museum owns several examples of eighteenth-century flamed-stitched objects and will juxtapose these pieces with Joyce’s work throughout the manor house to create an immersive exhibition experience.
Richard Wendorf, Director of the American Museum, said “My colleagues and I are very much looking forward to hosting these two exhibitions at the same time. Together they reflect much of what the Museum is all about: a vibrant look at an important period in Anglo-American cultural history (the Jazz Age) and a showcase for one of the most imaginative artists working in the textile world (Joyce Petschek). We hope that these exhibitions will appeal to a wide range of the Museum’s visitors in 2017.”