Leseprobe

217 Dresden.34 At this point, we must mention that particularly as women’s work in the 19th century, embroidery was poorly paid and had little to do with art. Throughout history, both men and women have worked as embroide- rers. Until the 18th century, embroidery was a gender-neutral activity. As early as the Middle Ages, there is documentation of professionally organised embroidery workshops and the professional embroiderers of the era were primarily men. They were located in major urban centres such as Paris, London, and Cologne but in smaller cities such as Bamberg in Upper Fran- conia as well.35 On the other hand, women – particularly those from the upper classes – have embroidered for centuries. This gave them the oppor- tunity to have a voice through design and provided room for creative free- dom as well.36 Some authors of early pattern books were women. For example, Isabella Parasole, who dedicated her Studio delle virtuose dame of 1597 to Elizabeth of Spain, Henry IV’s daughter, and wrote it for the women of the upper class. Sybilla Merian also drew pattern books and used embroidery to create textile works of art at the end of the 17th century (II.3). Today women use embroidery to create self-confident, sometime provocative statements.37 Clothing as a signifier: symbols, texts, images All embroidered elements, whether they are ornaments, images, texts, in beadwork or in gold, enrich clothing with symbols, colour, and significance. This applies to floral motifs (Chapter II), the motifs of foreign cultures (Chapter IV), or the use of a variety of materials (Chapter III), and to repre- sentational, figurative, and narrative images, symbols, and texts in particu- lar. The latter permit more detailed, complex formulations of content and statements. For this reason, the first chapter focuses on texts and images that are embroidered onto clothing. The embroidering of symbols, texts, and images onto pieces of clothing transforms them into signifiers. When worn on a person’s body, these sym- bols and images are transported through spatial and social contexts. This makes them part of a system of symbols in which proprietary, individual statements are able to be located. As a textile technique of refinement, embroidery is well suited for this role. In comparison to weaving and printing techniques, a drawing or signature can be rendered on pieces of clothing directly and placed precisely by means of hand embroidery. In many of the examples shown, the motif that was first drawn on the fabric support is still visible beneath the embroidery (e.g., I.4). As the motif is being realised using textile techniques, the hand guides the needle as it would guide a pencil, rendering the embroiderer’s signature with immediacy. From past to pre- sent, illustrators and painters have often created the templates for embroi- dery or realised images themselves using a needle and thread. In the exhi- bition, this is visible in the work of the artists Maria Sibylla Merian (1647– 1717; II.3), Johann Friedrich Netto (1756–1810; I. 8), and Jūratė Ridziaus- kaitė (born 1979; I.11– I.13), for example. Today, machine-embroidered logos, symbols, and slogans decorate both everyday clothing and outfits with cult status. In serial production, such embroidered decoration is also a sign of membership in a group. Alongside hand-embroidered ornament, artists’ images and signatures decorate haute couture’s unique pieces. Embroidery has always been used as a haptic technique for putting marks on supports. Selected objects from the collec- tion exhibit this age-old tradition. An embroidered medallion that was once applied to a festive robe documents the high quality of robe ornamentation in the late antiquity (I.1). Sacral or noble robes were embroidered with pictorial programmes (I.3–I.4). Embroidered crosses symbolise Christ’s pre- sence. On christening robes, they are also symbols of protection and belon- ging to a community (I.5). Over the centuries, clothing has been used as a support for text and letters.38 Text and textiles are etymologically related in many languages: many words, meanings, sayings, literary metaphors, and traditional themes reflect the proximity of language and textiles. In particular, the fabric, its texture and structure play an important role in the process.39 However, as mentioned above, embroidery as a textile technique is much more approp- riate than weaving when symbols and texts are to be applied to clothing with technologically simple, direct means. Early examples of this use have been handed down in the form of sacral robes (I.2). When such robes were recycled – a common practice with valuable textiles in the past – the inscriptions they bore could be overwritten (I.2) or removed (I.3). In the Renaissance, royal clothing featured embroidered mottos and slogans. Adages decorated women’s blouses in the 16th century (Fig. 1). Early pat- tern books from those days, such as that of Giovanni Antonio Tagliente from 1531 (II.2), contained plates‚ with templates for text ribbons onto which such slogans could be embroidered (Fig. 2). As early as the Middle Ages, symbols, coats of arms, and initials were embroidered onto clothing as signs of ownership or group membership. Embroidered symbols were also linked to the hope of effective protection, as in the christening robe shown here (I.5). And embroidering the year and name onto a garment fixed the memory of a festive occasion in place. At the end of the 18th century and during the first half of the 19th century in particular, embroidery was the technique of choice for preserving memories. Motifs of remembrance were embroidered onto silk and exchanged as tokens of friendship (I.9). From the 19th century, learning to embroider text was part of a young lady’s education: samplers with letters of the alphabet and sequences of numbers were created during school lessons. Many of them still exist today (e.g., I.10). Text on textiles was all the rage. The fashion was to embroider messages, memorial verses, or declarations of love onto accessories, pocket handkerchiefs, bags, or braces and to gift them to others (II.17). Slogans, religious or moral mottos embroidered onto cloths of all kinds were used in kitchens and parlours. Contemporary artists and fashion designers are continuing in the tradi- tion of embroidered adages and slogans. In Tarnsätze (Camouflage senten- ces), Tex Rubinowitz repeats the fashion of the embroidered sayings that was widespread around 1900, using the sewing machine as a typewriter (I.15). In this spirit, for many years the graphic and textile artist Jūratė Ridziauskaitė has stitched diary-type entries onto a skirt that she wears herself. She ‘enters’ the important events and thoughts in the form of embroidered motifs and texts (I.13). Embroidered slogans and pearls of wisdom appear on mass-pro- duced t-shirts. Unlike printed inscriptions, the personal expression of a sta- tement is emphasised when it looks hand-embroidered (Fig. 3). Texts and letters on clothing can be legible signifiers, mysterious and exclusive inscriptions, protective symbols, or decoration. They have been used as widely recognised labels and in deliberately play with the temporary visibility resulting from movement and the folds, and textures of fabrics. I. 35 Grönwoldt 1993, 10; Bergemann 2006, 31–54; Kohwagner-Nikolai 2019, 139 et seq. 36 Parker 1984; Gajewski/Seeberg 2016. 37 Auther 2017, 119; Röhl 2017, 211; Ruhkamp 2013, 318. 38 Enderwitz/Foger/Sauer 2015. 39 Hedwig Röckelein, ‘Textus’, in: Reineke/ Röhl/Kapustka/Weddigen 2017, 276–279.

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