Compositions for Silk Damask & Other Fabrics (homage to Morton Feldman)

by Arthur on Tuesday, February 8, 2011

in Color,Design,Fashion,Technique,Textiles

(Fabric weaving manuscript).- Felix, M. & J. Mercier. Cahier de Théorie 4e Année 3e. N.p. (Lyon?) n.d. (circa 1895). [44915]

Though we know little about the person who composed it (“J. Mercier,” seemingly a student in the 4th-year class of  one “Professeur M. Felix”), Cahier de Théorie 4e Année 3e offers a rich window into the world of industrial fabric design in turn-of-the-century Lyon—once  a world capital of silk production.

The folio-size graph-paper notebook contains page after page of sketches and patterns for elegant fabrics accompanied by 74 fabric swatches and the student-designer’s painstaking notes in a careful hand.

To an expert in the history of textile design these pages would no doubt speak volumes about the industrialization of the loom and the translation of warp-and-weft handwork into modern machine processes. To the untrained eye (or at least my own) the remarkably beautiful designs also suggest complex musical compositions.

Modernist classical composer Morton Feldman (subject of a wonderful 2010 retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art) is said to have looked to textile designs for inspiration.

One wonders what he might have made of the precise repeating patterns and schematic complexity of J. Mercier’s notebook.

For more information about Cahier de Théorie 4e Année 3e (or to share more information about this particular genre of industrial manuscript), please e-mail us.

FAB Item I.D. # 44915

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