A stroll through the museum’s collections
to music by André Manoukian
27 October 2017 – 30 September 2018
2017 is a milestone year for the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes, with its rich heritage collection gaining international acclaim in a book—the first of a series—from Taschen, the world-renowned art book publisher. We decided to celebrate this event with a temporary exhibition devoted to our finest treasures, showcasing our rarest, most striking pieces. The exhibition Bal(l)ade–a play on the French words balade meaning stroll, and ballade meaning ballad–reveals the museum’s prize possessions in a whole new light. It uses the latest digital technologies, including projection mapping, sound design, interactive multimedia trails, and creative staging, to bring the museum’s sumptuous legacy to life and create a totally immersive visitor experience. The first imports of “painted cloths” caused a sensation and transformed the way people in the West dressed and decorated their homes. These indiennes were so popular that European manufacturers soon tried to copy them. As a result, their patterns and motifs became the foundations of Western decorative textile design.
Since the 17th century, indiennes and printed textiles had typically featured floral and bird motifs, but new designs soon emerged, often created for a specific market, factory, or new printing technique. Patterns and motifs evolved and became more Western as they were adapted to meet European tastes–fabrics were, after all, commercial products that had to sell and turn a profit. Designs continued to transcend borders as textile manufacturers around the world were swift to copy each other’s patterns.
This exhibition uses items from the museum’s extensive collections to tell the story of more than two and a half centuries of printed textile design. It shows how timeless the motifs are and how they still resonate today. It also explains how new techniques, social change, the growth of travel, and advances in chemistry and science all led to the creation of new styles.
The textile design studios in Mulhouse founded a museum of industrial design in 1857 that began collecting early textile designs for use as sources of inspiration. The Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes inherited the original collection and has added to it steadily over the years–opening its archives to design professionals from all over the world who consult them in search of ideas.
The museum is currently home to over six million textile design samples and, as such, is the world’s leading textile image centre. For this exhibition it has drawn on a selection of its most iconic pieces, which visitors are invited to explore freely. By juxtaposing old and new, it tells the whole history of the Western printed textile motif–from the arrival of the first indiennes, to modern times.
Exotic floral patterns on 18th century palampore bedcovers; elegant paisley motifs; the charming pastoral scenes of Toiles de Jouy; the exuberant prints of the French Second Empire; Raoul Dufy’s decorative fantasies; Sonia Delaunay’s simultaneous fabrics, and today’s most avantgarde creations–the exhibition is an enchanting journey through time featuring centuries of the most emblematic textile designs.
“Bal(l)ade” seeks to break down barriers between art forms and shine a new light on a legacy of printed textiles. In this exhibition, the museum weaves many pathways between two creative worlds: the history of textiles (and its own extensive collection), and the world of music and instruments.
To bring them together, the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes joined forces with André Manoukian, one of modern music’s most distinguished composers. He has put the exhibition to music with bespoke compositions inspired by the textiles on display, turning this colourful and exotic world of textiles into a delight not only for the eyes, but also for the ears.
With this exhibition, which opens in October 2017, André Manoukian and the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes are marking an exciting debut to a busy cultural season. “Coup de Cœur d’André Manoukian”, a limited-edition silk scarf, has been created especially for the exhibition.