The Underlying Beauty of Tapestry
Perhaps there’s something inherently intriguing in the binary structure of a tapestry. Absent the rich, wet application of oil paint, a canvas isn’t very interesting, and without a chisel, that block of marble won’t be carved. It’s the same with warp and weft, the twin forces without which there would be no tapestry: The warp threads create the unseen structure holding the whole thing together, and the weft threads form the pretty pictures visible to all. Usually the two are joined on a vertical loom via skilled human hands.
Threads—whether wool, silk, linen, or even gold—also draw us with their texture. “Part of the appeal is the medium itself—it’s tactile,” says Alice Zrebiec, a consulting curator at the Denver Museum of Art. The warmth of a tapestry isn’t just visual. In the old days before central heating, tapestries were hung to prevent drafts from getting through stone walls. A painting never had such an elemental, practical duty.
Shown above is one of a pair of radiating tapestries, Purple Cool/Warm by American Richard Anuszkiewicz (b. 1930).