This Fall, MAMCO explores, through a new set of exhibitions on the three floors of the museum, decoration as the true repressed of modernity.
This Fall, MAMCO examines the “Pattern & Decoration” movement, formed in the 1970s and that enjoyed international success in the 1980s, before fading in the decades thereafter. Most of the artists involved were reacting against the dominance of abstract schools in the post-War era, with a particular opposition to Minimal and Conceptual art. They also criticized the pervasive dominance of Western art and male artists in the context of modernism as a whole. Including an equal number of men and women, the group organized around “pattern and decoration” reconnected with what was widely perceived as “minor” art forms and asserted decoration as the true repressed of modernity.
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Referencing ornamental motifs on wallpaper, patchwork quilts, or printed fabrics, the movement opened up Western art of the time to eclectic sources of inspiration : from Islamic decorative art, Byzantine and Mexican mosaics, to Turkish embroidery and Japanese prints, Indian rugs and Iranian miniatures. By creating works that blurred the boundaries bet- ween traditional paintings and decorative art objects, the movement’s artists — men and women alike — defined their position at the intersection between artistic disciplines, spearheading a critique of the traditional demarcation between the “fine” and “applied” arts. Finally, by reviving interest in long-undervalued crafts and asserting the right to bring these techniques out of the domestic sphere and into the public world of art, they held much in common with the Feminist art movement of the 1970s.
“Pattern & Decoration” is justly viewed as an overlooked movement, but it served nonetheless as a springboard for a number of contemporary practices : taking an essentially historical approach, the exhibition aims to re-evaluate the movement and reassess its contribution in light of contemporary art today.
In order to make clear the contrast that the artists in the show “Pattern, Decoration & Crime” brought to the artistic landscape of their era, the third floor of the MAMCO has been rearranged around its collections. There can be found not only the Apartment, which here plays the role of a “period room” from the 1970s, but also new rooms de- voted to Dan Flavin and post-minimal art. Furthermore, European artists, who are sometimes less well known, and who were associated with the dominant artistic movements of the 1960s-1970s, such as Fabio Mauri, Gianni Piacentino or Franz Erhard Walther, also benefit from a monographic presentation.Photo: Annik Wetter–MAMCO, Genève